The Pacific Rim: Expanding the Scope of Colonial and Postcolonial

T. Williams

As a woman of Native Hawai'ian ancestry, I do believe that Pacific Rim peoples are among the most colonized in the world and your website should feature literature and cultural commentary/criticism inclusive of the area. I would also like to suggest that you find a copy of an anthology edited by Zohl de Ishtar called Daughters of the Pacific. In her introductory chapter she makes the case as well or probably much more eloquently that I can:

The Pacific is wrapped in a veneer of silence that has masked Pacific peoples from those of us who live outside the region, and for most of us who live on its edges. Relegated to the far corners of our minds we assume 'nothing ever happens' there. It is forgotten and ignored. . . . Pacific peoples. . . are not accorded serious consideration in global terms. . . . the Pacific is home to almost six million Indigenous people. . . . While there are thirteen independent states, many nations remain heavily colonized. To the North are the Marshalls, Belau, the Northern Marianas and The Federal States of Micronesia, all bound to the United States. These are joined by the U.S. territories of Guam, American Samoa and Hawai'i. The French have their domain -- New Caledonia, Tahiti-Polynesia, and Wallis and Futuna. Rapa Nui . . . is governed by Chile. Other nations, like Tokelau and Niue, have special arrangements with Aotearoa (New Zealand) or Australia, both lands where the Indigenous peoples have become minorities under a dominant European culture. . . . Pacific nations which are independent--Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, and Kiribati, to name a few--have had to strive to reclaim their inalienable rights to self-determination, and yet even they remain trapped under the economic control of neo-colonial governments.

Speaking for myself, my upbringing in Hawai'i was an often surreal, sometimes nightmarish, palimpsest of cultures, each one inexplicably able to appear and recede with impunity. I have, in fact, written a seminar paper deconstructing the first twenty-something years of my life. When I left Hawai'i and moved to California in 1977, I experienced what I would call a bit of a culture shock. And so I say that, in my own very personal experience, the definition of postcolonialism should be expanded.

Postcolonial OV discourseov