Abstract

Abstract:

"I Am the River, and the River Is Me," the afterword to this special issue, weaves together a series of creative experiments across the Pacific that seek to displace old, outmoded dichotomies and reclaim Oceanic ways of living in Oceanic worlds. Across Oceania, many modernist assumptions are being disputed, as Huhana Smith describes for Aotearoa New Zealand, Michael Mel for Mogei people in Papua New Guinea, and Nicholas Evans for Nen-speaking people in southern New Guinea. In the past, "just-so" stories about animism, anthropomorphism, totemism, and the like in Oceania proliferated in which these divisions survived unchallenged, even when describing living worlds in which they do not apply. Such ontological refusals have impoverished our understandings, as Chris Ballard recounts for the Kuwei eruption in Vanuatu, and when local people adopt them, they fundamentally disrupt their ways of living, as Deborah Gewertz and Frederick Errington describe for Chambri in Papua New Guinea. An ontological uprising is occurring across Oceania as ancestral ways of relational thinking are being reasserted, as Myjolynne Kim explores in her account of women in Chuuk and elsewhere in Micronesia. As the Pacific Ocean is being ravaged by pollution and rubbish, overfishing, rising seas, dying coral reefs, and drowning islands, alternative ways of thinking about relations among people and between people and other life-forms are urgently needed. Scholarly inquiry should be part of this enterprise, and as this special issue demonstrates, in Oceania—and fortunately for us all—such work is already underway.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 164-171
Launched on MUSE
2020-04-01
Open Access
No
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