Embodying Time & Space of Blackness in Māori Women’s Storytelling
Apr 10, 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm
NAS Colloquium Series: Wednesday April 10, 12-1:30, Many Nations Longhouse, University of Oregon
Joyce Pualani Warren (Kanaka Maoli), Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethnic American Literatures and Cultural Productions.
“Embodying the Time and Space of Blackness in Māori Women’s Storytelling”
Near the close of Patricia Grace’s novel Potiki (1986), a young Māori woman interrupts a gathering on a marae in order to critique settler and Indigenous notions of legal and cultural protocol. She articulates her exasperation with these systems through what she sees as her intersectional yet solitary identity as a young, black, Māori woman. This talk will place these critiques of protocol in historical and cultural contexts to explore the politics of Māori women’s attempts to clear both space and time for their voices. I use a Native feminist reading praxis to sift through the text’s overlapping representations of physical, racial blackness, and the figurative, cosmogonic blackness of Te Pō, to ask what can be gained by tracing an arc between Te Pō, Māori women’s bodies, and narrative form within the novel. Ultimately, I argue that the politics of physical blackness and the potentiality of figurative blackness produce the novel’s spiral form and narration, and I emphasize the ways Native feminisms can look to the past to restore Māori women’s contemporary agency and incorporate it into future movements towards political and cultural sovereignty.
Joyce Pualani Warren is the inaugural recipient of the University of Oregon’s Postdoctoral Research Fellowship in Ethnic American Literatures and Cultural Productions (2017-2019), where she teaches courses in the Department of English and collaborates with Native American Studies and Ethnic Studies. In Fall 2019, she will join the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa’s Department of English as an Assistant Professor of Pacific Literature. Her research interests include Pacific Islands literature, Ethnic American literature, epistemologies and experiences of blackness, indigeneity, diaspora, nationhood, and Native feminisms. Her current book project, “Theorizing Pō: The Time and Space of Embodied Blackness in Pacific Islands Literature,” uses indigenous epistemology of Pō as a theoretical framework to analyze contemporary Pacific Islands literature, exploring how figurative and physical blackness are used to articulate indigenous peoples’ struggles for cultural and political sovereignty. She has written pieces on literary nationalism, anti-/blackness and Kanaka Maoli sovereignty, Pacific Islands studies in the continental U.S., and mixed race and diasporic indigeneity, which have appeared in venues such as American Quarterly, Amerasia Journal, and Mixed Roots Commons. She holds a PhD in English, a graduate certificate in Asian American Studies, and a BA in American Literature and Culture with a minor in Afro-American Studies, all from the University of California, Los Angeles.