Fafifi

This essay is in the early stages of it's first draft.

Art, Propaganda & Otherness in Oceania

By David Rose

Red sunset over the ocean with palm trees in the foreground and the word Fafifi

Preamble[edit | edit source]

Prof. Arvin is a Native Hawaiian feminist scholar of race, gender, science & colonialism. Click picture to watch 'The Polynesian Problem' .
When researching how places have been peopled, one thing is becoming increasingly clear: for a time a group of people might live in isolation (sometimes for a very long time), but eventually by land or water travellers will come, alternatively they themselves will travel and will come to meet the Other. There is something incredibly beautiful and liberating about the following insight by renowned geneticist Professor David Reich, mixing is in human nature, and no one population is - or could be - "pure" .[1] Therefore, if racial purity exists at all, it is in Humanity as a whole and purity is really diversity.

Otherness depends on identity - it relates to belonging (or not belonging) to a particular People and/or a particular Place.

Where do I belong? What am I? And who are my people?

On Earth. Human. Everyone.

Is this a white perspective? Is it too abstract and radical? Is it true? Is humanism at odds with cultural identity?

Let's find out.

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Shaneel Lal: ‘It’s difficult to imagine a world where queer people are free to just be’. Click the pic to watch.

This essay is the personal story of an artist and a writer coming to terms with their responsibility to consult with communities who they represent in a published creative work. In doing so it functions in some way as an exploration of their own identity, their own place in the world.

It is also an endeavour to reach out to First Nations individuals and communities in the Pacific.

The Power of Words: Empathy[edit | edit source]

Video documentary exploring gender diversity, tradition and acceptance in Hawaii . Click the pic to watch.
Video mashup by self-proclaimed digital DIY Maori @lurkster. Click the pic to watch.

There is power in art, power in words - power to move, inspire and sublimate.

I was teased awfully as a child and I would hear other children say "sticks and stones may break my bones, but calling names won't hurt me". It didn't seem to matter how often (or how loud) I recited that chant, the pain would not go away - eventually I learnt that it wasn't so much the words that were said, but the feelings behind them. It was the emotion with which they were expressed that gave them power to hurt- I was and am sensitive to both language and the emotions of others.

My intention with creating a fictional contact community in Oceania is not to hurt, but quite the opposite. I hope to use words to ultimately inspire and uplift, but also to challenge. Art, especially street art (my kind of art), can often be challenging and risky. I intend to tread carefully, aware that sometimes on my journey I might nevertheless stumble, or accidently tread on someone's toes.

We all have different degrees of sensitivity to different influences. In criminology 'intent' matters. I think the same is true in life and in artistic endeavour. The point is I am also sensitive to the feelings and reactions of others. Though I have learnt over 63 years that I am not responsible for other peoples feelings, I am required to take notice of them and respect them. I am responsible for what I think, say and do.

I would also add that as a writer I am challenged to be courageous - and write!

Learning from Experience[edit | edit source]

Vanautu dancer in ceremonial dress dancing with spear and body paint
Legends of the South Pacific, an interesting snapshot of several different islands & cultures. Click on the picture above to watch the video
Tales of Taonga - the Tongan goddess Hikule'o. Click on the picture to watch the video

The last time I undertook a major creative project is was a screen play for a feature drama that ended up with a working title "Turkey Terror and the Warriors of Love". The work involved .....

[to be continued]

Working Notes[edit | edit source]

Hawaian man giving a lecture
Lessons from a thousand years of island sustainability - Sam ‘Ohu Gon III, PhD - TEDxMaui. Click on the picture above to watch the video

Mariner [was a 14 yr old English cabin boy adopted by Tongan cheif who] gave a lively description of Fīnau Fangupō (ʻUlukālala II), in particular. In one passage, Mariner quoted Fīnau's opinion of the Western innovation of money: If money were made of iron and could be converted into knives, axes and chisels there would be some sense in placing a value on it; but as it is, I see none. If a man has more yams than he wants, let him exchange some of them away for pork. [...] Certainly money is much handier and more convenient but then, as it will not spoil by being kept, people will store it up instead of sharing it out as a chief ought to do, and thus become selfish. [...] I understand now very well what it is that makes the papālangi [non-Polynesians] so selfish – it is this money! [1]

Welcome to Hearts and Minds—A QTAPI Community Conversation Series, Session Two: Asians and Pacific Islanders: Our Future Determines Our Past... About the Speakers

Queer Asians and Pacific Islanders: Our Future Determines Our Past Speakers: Peter Tuiolosega Silva (Executive Director of Kumukahi Health + Wellness), Amy Sueyoshi (Dean of the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University) and Helen Zia (author of Asian American Dreams: The Emergence of an American People). [2]

Meet the LGBTQI Pacific Islanders overcoming a 'colonial mindset' and 'narrative of shame' to embrace their true selves

Leitis: Tonga's transgender community fights for visibility from the conservative Pacific Kingdom


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References[edit | edit source]

  1. Prof David Reich, 2018 , Ancient DNA and the New Science of the Human Past, YouTube video lecture from the Harvard Museum of Natural History sourced 29th Mar, 2022
  2. The Commonwealth Club of California, 2021 , Queer Asians and Pacific Islanders: Our Future Determines Our Past, YouTube video discussion panel from the The Commonwealth Club of California sourced 11th Apr, 2022