Week 7 Blog Post

Part 1: Paraphrase an academic source in relation to Week 7 Lecture

A theme discussed in this week’s lecture was Pacific Methodologies and their place in an academic setting. Konai Helu Thaman discusses the decolonisation of Pacific studies in an article published by the University of Hawai’i. She discusses intellectual colonisation of the Pacific and how the dominant western worldview undermines and suppresses Pacific views, and, in doing so, she reclaims indigenous Oceanic perspectives (Thaman 4). University studies, including Pacific studies, are dominated by a western worldview and as society continues toward a globalised culture and education, indigenous cultures are left behind. All too often indigenous perspectives are dismissed or condemned in academic institutions (Thaman 10). Thaman calls for a paradigm shift, advocating for universities to value indigenous perspectives and adopt more inclusive philosophies (7).

Part 2: Creative response to the socio-political situation that confronted Pacific Islanders

The Pacific has been cast as a joyful, picturesque paradise by the tourism and film industries. However, these representations dismiss encounters of conquest, assimilation, and environmental abuse – creating “bizarre historical juxtapositions” (Vercoe, 38). Brett Graham’s installation ‘Bravo Bikini’ is a response to nuclear imperialism, in particular, the detrimental environmental and societal impact of the nuclear tests in Bikini Atoll – an event which occurred at the same time as the emergence of the ‘bikini’, a two pieced swimsuit (Vercoe 38). In his installation, there are two white oval forms on white walls. This creates a blinding effect and alludes to a ground zero white out, as well as the white nuclear fall out which many children fatally mistook for snow. Their rounded form references a woman’s bust in relation to the bikini top. On another wall, 27 small white carvings of the female deity Kave of Nukoro hang – only two of which are complete. These two figures indicate the only islands which received reparations (Vercoe 40). Graham’s piece breaks the Pacific’s paradise paradigm by revealing the devastation Western conquest brought.

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Graham, Brett. Bravo Bikini. 1996. Brett Graham. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.

Part 3: Synopsis of ‘Dawn Raids’

Fepulea’i’s film ‘Dawn Raids’ documents the racial and political tension during the 1970’s. Post-war New Zealand’s booming economy came with a labour shortage and following the Government’s encouragement many Pacific people migrated, working labour jobs to give their families opportunity. However, as New Zealand entered a recession, Polynesians began to take the blame for crime, resource use and unemployment, and racism and resentment grew. Previously waived immigration laws tightened as police set up random checks and invasive dawn raids. Polynesians, and anyone who looked Polynesian, were unfairly targeted, and many were arrested or deported. In response to this hostility, a protest group who called themselves the Polynesian Panthers emerged who worked for justice and empowered the Pacific community.

Works Cited:

Fepulea’i, Damon. “Dawn Raids.” NZ On Screen. NZ On Screen, 2005. Web. 18 Sept. 2016.
Graham, Brett. Bravo Bikini. 1996. Brett Graham. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
Thaman, Konai Helu. “Decolonizing Pacific Studies: Indigenous Perspectives, Knowledge, and Wisdom in Higher Education.” The Contemporary Pacific. 15.1 (2003): 1-17. ScholarSpace. Web. 19 Sept. 2016.
Vercoe, Caroline. “The Many Faces of Paradise.” Paradise Now?: Contemporary Art from the Pacific. New York: Asia Society, 2004. 35-47. Print.

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