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Oceanic peoples in dialogue: French Polynesian literature as transnational link

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Ma'ohi people's transnational ties with other Oceanic communities have been severed due to colonial and imperial practices that have separated the Pacific into three orientalizing spaces, namely Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia and imposed their colonial languages thereupon. Since much of Ma'ohi writing is in French, or the local Franitien, French Polynesia remains marginalized from anglophone Oceania, and Ma'ohi artistic, cultural, and literary production remains absent from Oceanic criticism. In the Pacific, Oceanic discourse reveals an Oceanic consciousness, which entails recovering alternate histories, reading Oceania based on its diverse cultural contexts, privileging indigenous epistemologies, and decentring western authoritative and patriarchal discourses. Drawing upon Paul Gilroy's Black Atlantic and Tongan intellectual Epeli Hau'ofa's ideas, this essay views transnationalism through a metaphoric lens using Ma'ohi literature as the va'a or canoe, to re-bridge Oceanic peoples in a transnational context.

Keywords: French Polynesian Literature; Hau'ofa; Ma'ohi; Oceanic peoples; Tahiti; transnationalism

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of New Mexico.

Publication date: December 1, 2005

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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