Oceanic Solidarities

Trish Tupou, Amy K.H. Vegas, and Lee Kava


Image: Kanaka Maoli artist, Ahilapalapa Rands and Trish Tupou at Ihumātao, 2019 (Copyright Trish Tupou)


Reflecting on the imagery of the kīpuka (Vaughan. 2018), offers a useful way to approach further enquiries into Oceanic solidarities from the vantage point of the ‘aina. Not only does the kīpuka attest to the matter that remains after the lava flow, through this, it simultaneously acknowledges what was once there and what has grown in its absence. If we consider the entangled histories and present-day realities of Oceania – both for those still living on their native islands and those who find themselves as settlers within the region – we may discover kīpuka that tether our knowledges and cultures together. Oceanic solidarities are deeply embedded through time and space – in multiscalar ways. Though, it cannot be ignored that many of these solidarities have often been buried through layers of colonisation and through the pervasive hegemonic structures that continue to uphold individualistic ways of understanding self and the world, the land endures in important ways that teaches us how to uncover these deeply encoded relationalities. Just like the kīpuka, there has been life that has grown over these crevices; emerging stalks of connectivity that come from our bonded roots through water and land.

This section offers resources for thinking through what relationship Pacific Islanders across Oceania and other lands hold to Kanaka Maoli and to their sacred Mauna. But more than that, we ask the reader to consider how our Indigenous solidarities are tied to shared struggles for sovereignty and freedom. When visiting Ihumātao, I witnessed just some of the ways that Auckland’s Pacific community were connecting such struggles. Fighting for sovereignty over this land as tied to Mauna Kea in Hawai’i and the continued genocide taking place in West Papua. Pacific Islanders who were occupying Ihumātao held signs that read “until we are all free”. Acknowledging the inter-related histories of our colonial ties in the Pacific – but also that our paths to freedom are also tied. We cannot be free until we are ALL free.

Highlighting the work of the late i-Taukei and Australian historian, Dr. Tracey Banivanua Mar whose histories of decolonisation in the Pacific remind us that we are all tied to broader networks of solidarities that travel through the fluid waters of the Pacific and our porous borders (2016). Or as Kanaka Maoli academic, Dr. Emalani Case recently expressed through the visual of roots that show us how “our Pacific peoples, although distant in space, are always present in each other’s ancestral and recent memories – some of them beautiful and others painful” (2021, n.p.). Our genealogies to our Island places tie us to other people and other lands – underlining that our sovereignty and freedom cannot be disarticulated within an Oceanic world (Teaiwa, 2017).

The resources listed here are for exploring these mobilities, relationalities and connections.

Discussion Questions

1. What is Oceanic Solidarity? What does this look like for Kanaka, both from the diaspora and living on-island? What are the responsibilities of Pacific Islanders who live on Occupied Hawaiian lands?

2. How can we reclaim Oceanic solidarities and longer, deeper genealogical histories that exceed the U.S. empire?

3. How do we honor the risks Oceanian people take to put their bodies on the line for the mauna and what are the radical cultures that inform their actions to participate?

4. How can we have a conversation about Tongan/Samoan/Fijian/Micronesian/West Papua/Oceanic solidarities without talking about the separation and invisibility of Oceanic identities in Hawai’i in relation to U.S. empire, U.S. militarism, and assimilation of these Indigenous peoples in Hawai’i?

Literature and Resources

Oceanic Mobilities and Connections

Banivanua-Mar, T. (2015). Shadowing Imperial Networks: indigenous mobility and Australia's Pacific past. Australian Historical Studies, 46(3), 340-355.

Banivanua-Mar, T. (2016). Decolonisation and the Pacific: Indigenous Globalisation and the Ends of Empire. Cambridge University Press.

Banivanua-Mar, T. (2016). Settler-Colonial Landscapes and Narratives of Possession. In The Settler Complex: recuperating binarism in colonial studies, edited by Patrick Wolfe. Los Angeles, California: UCLA American Indian Studies Center.

Banivanua-Mar, T., & Edmonds, P. (2010). Introduction: Making Space in Settler Colonies. In Making Settler Colonial Space: Perspectives on race, place and identity, edited by Tracey Banivanua-Mar and Penelope Edmonds, 1-24. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

Byrd, J. (2011). The Transit of Empire: indigenous critiques of colonialism. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Camacho, K. L. (2011). Transoceanic Flows: Pacific Islander interventions across the American empire. Amerasia, 37(3), ix-xxxiv.

Case, E. (2015). I Kahiki ke Ola: In Kahiki there is Life, Ancestral Memories and Migrations the New Pacific (Doctoral thesis, Victoria University of Wellington). Retrieved from http://researcharchive.vuw.ac.nz/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10063/4880/thesis.pdf?sequence=1.

Cook, K. (2018). Return to Kahiki: Native Hawaiians in Oceania. Cambridge University Press.

Davis, S. (2015). The Empires' Edge: militarization, resistance, and transcending hegemony in the Pacific. Athens: The University of Georgia Press.

Diaz, V. M., & Kauanui, J. K. (2001). Native Pacific Cultural Studies on the Edge. The Contemporary Pacific, 13(2), 315-342.

Fanua, T. P. (1982). Po Tatala. Nuku’alofa, Tonga: Taulua Press.

Fujikane, C., & Okamura, J. Y. (2008). Asian Settler Colonialism: From Local Governance to the Habits of Everyday Life in Hawaiʻi. Honolulu, Hawaiʻi: University of Hawaii Press.

Hall, L. K. (2015). Which of These Things is Not Like the Other: Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are not Asian Americans, and all Pacific Islanders are not Hawaiian. American Quarterly, 67(3), 727-747.

Hauʻofa, E. (1994). Our Sea of Islands. The Contemporary Pacific, 6 (1), 148–61.

Hauʻofa, E. (2008). We Are the Ocean. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Hutchins, E., & Hinton, G. E. (1984). Why the Islands Move. Perception, 13(5), 629-632.

Jolly, M. (2007). Imagining Oceania: indigenous and foreign representations of a sea of islands. The Contemporary Pacific, 19(2), 508-545.

Kaʻili, T. (2005). Tauhi Vā: nurturing Tongan sociospatial ties in Maui and beyond. The Contemporary Pacific, 17(1), 83-114.

Kaʻili, T. (2017). Marking Indigeneity: the Tongan art of sociospatial relations. Tucson, Arizona: The University of Arizona Press.

Kauanui, J. K. (2016a). “A Structure, Not an Event”: settler colonialism and enduring indigeneity. Lateral, 5(1), n.p. https://doi.org/10.25158/L5.1.7.

Kauanui, J. K. (2016b). Traversing the Hawaiian Nationalist Political Gulf. Hūlili, 10, 83-100.

Kuwada, B. K. (2019). Native People Across the Pacific are Resisting Dispossession of Sacred Land. Truthout.Org. Accessed from: https://truthout.org/articles/native-people-across-the-pacific-are-resisting-dispossession-of-sacred-land/

Lyons, P., & Tengan, T. P. K. (2015). Introduction: Pacific currents. American Quarterly, 67(3), 545-574.

Māhina, O. (1992). The Tongan Traditional History Tala-E-Fonua: a vernacular ecology-centered historico-cultural concept. Canberra, Australia: Australian National University Press.

Mohabir, R. (2015). Ally is a Verb: A Whale’s Song. Accessed from: https://hehiale.wordpress.com/2015/04/21/ally-is-a-verb-a-whales-song/

Teaiwa, K. (2015). Consuming Ocean Island: stories of people and phosphate from Banaba. Indianapolis, U.S.A.: Indiana University Press.

Teaiwa, K. (2018). Our Rising Sea of Islands: Pan-Pacific regionalism in the age of climate change. Pacific Studies, 41(1), 26-54.

Teaiwa, T. K. (1994). Bikinis and Other S/Pacific N/Oceans. The Contemporary Pacific, 6(1), 87-109.

Teaiwa, T. K. (1995). Searching for Nimʻanoa. Suva, Fiji: Mana Publications.

Teaiwa, T. K. (2001). L(o)osing the Edge. The Contemporary Pacific, 13(2), 343-365.

Teaiwa, T. K. (2010). For or Before an Asia Pacific Studies Agenda? Specifying Pacific Studies. In Remaking Area Studies: Teaching and Learning Across Asia and the Pacific, edited by Terence Wesley-Smith and Jon Goss, 110-124. Honolulu: University of Hawaiʻi Press.

Teaiwa, T. K. (2017). Native thoughts: a Pacific Studies take on cultural studies and diaspora. In Indigenous diasporas and dislocations, edited by Charles D. Thompson Jr., 15-36. Routledge.

Teaiwa, T. K., & Mallon, S. (2005). Ambivalent Kinships? Pacific people in New Zealand. In New Zealand Identities: Departures and Destinations, edited by Tracey McIntosh, James H. Liu, Tim McCreanor, and Teresia Teaiwa, 207-229. Wellington: Victoria Press University.

Te Punga Somerville, A. (2009). Once Were Pacific: Māori connections to Oceania. Minnesota: University of Minnestoa Press.

Thaman, K. H. (2003). Decolonizing Pacific Studies: indigenous perspectives, knowledge, and wisdom in higher education. The Contemporary Pacific, 15(1), 1-17.

Trask, H. K. (2000). Settlers of Color and “Immigrant” Hegemony: “locals” in Hawaiʻi. Amerasia Journal, 26(2), 1-24.

Vaioleti, T. M. (2006). Talanoa Research Methodology: a developing position on Pacific research. Waikato Journal of Education, 12, 21-34.

Vaughan, M. (2018). Kaiāulu: gathering tides. Oregon: Oregon State University Press.

The Black Pacific

Banivanua-Mar, T. (2007). Violence and Colonial Dialogue: the Australian-Pacific Indentured Labor Trade. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Beutner, K., Alohalani Brown, M., Coke, A. A. H., Enomoto, J., Kaushal, A., Kuwada, B. K., Mohabir, R., Osorio, J. H., Santos Perez, C., Qolouvaki, T., Revilla, N., Schultz, S. M., Soto, L., Wieting, J., Wright, R., & Yamashiro, A. (2014). Write for Ferguson: Protest Poetry from Hawai’i Review. Hawai’i Review. Accessed from: https://issuu.com/hawaiireview/docs/protest_poetry_for_ferguson

Kabutaulaka, T. (2015). Re-Presenting Melanesia: Ignoble Savages and Melanesian Alter-Natives. The Contemporary Pacific 27(1), 110-145

Sharma, N. T. (2019) Over two centuries: Black people in nineteenth-century Hawaiʻi, American Nineteenth Century History, 20(2), 115-140.

Teaiwa, T., Banks, O.J., Enomoto, J. L., Andrews, C-S. L., Jones, A. L., Henderson, A. K., & Cruz-Banks, O. (2017). Black and Blue in the Pacific, Amerasia Journal, 43:(1), 145-193.

Qolouvaki, T. (2015). The Mana of Wansolwara: Oceanic Art/Story as Protest and Decolonial Imagining. Ke Kaupu Hehiale. Accessed from: https://hehiale.wordpress.com/2015/04/27/the-mana-of-wansolwara-oceanic-artstory-as-protest-and-decolonial-imagining/

Warren, J. L. P. (2017). Theorizing Pō: Embodied Cosmogony and Polynesian National Narratives (PhD thesis). Accessed from: https://escholarship.org/uc/item/7mr0d19j

Oceanic Solidarities on the Mauna (and beyond)


Interview with James Viernes on Micronesian Connections trip to Mauna Kea

December 2020

MKS_Interview questions_ECase.docx

Interview with Emalani Case by Amy K.H. Vegas

MKS_Interview questions_answers Perez.docx

Interview with Craig Santos Perez by Amy K.H. Vegas


  • Ahilapalapa Rands, “Lift Off”: https://www.circuit.org.nz/film/lift-off-3-screens-in-1-installation-demo

  • Emalani Case, “Navigating Roots” Center for Pacific Islands Studies Student Conference Keynote address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKPdkKEBJt8&t=1575s

  • Maile Arvin, “The Polynesian Problem”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gX3yd2jaHjI

  • Sundance Film Festival, “Black Visuality and Solidarity in Oceania” : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJTJv4TpSnc

  • Tevita Ka’ili, “In the Beginning Was the Ocean” Australian Association for Pacific Studies keynote address: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nJTJv4TpSnc

  • UHM Department of Ethic Studies “Oceanic Solidarities: Beyond Asian Settler Colonialism”, Zoom recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zdaBcQleopk

  • UHM Department of Ethnic Studies, “Race and Indigeneity in Oceania”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5PX7RVmCKgA

  • University of Utah, Pasifika virtual symposium: “To search for roots is to discover routes”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nwgEyy_J6-M&t=700s

  • Vince Diaz, “Locating Indigeneity among the Sea of Islands”, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0x4YTXnzQTw