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Panel 2: Transformative appropriations and iconic power in the Pacific


A. - [Chris]tina Engels-Schwarzpaul, Albert Refiti

Session presentation

Worldwide, the traditional architecture of the Pacific is reproduced by educational institutions, government agencies, hotels and resorts, and iconic Pacific objects are displayed as tokens of ways of life. Though their intentions will vary, indigenous Pacific politicians or educators and Western marketing managers rely on the same “displacement of form, and the persistence of the sense of belonging attached to it” (Refiti 2015), the power to re-present something ‘Pacific’. How does this power work? What happens when a Fale Pasifika – an “iconic building” [3] evoking a sense of place and identity – is built at the University of Auckland? Can iconicity help us understand what Tomlinson and Tengan (2016) call “transformation in appropriation”? How may such power be harnessed to strengthen diasporic Pacific identities? Might Aby Warburg’s Nachleben (afterlife: as “protean, liquid, oceanic in scope and complexity” as life itself, be relevant? How to imagine human and non-human entities in the interfaces between iconicity and fa’atupua, in global markets, tourism sites, and new media. We welcome proposals considering material culture, place, spaces, objects and architecture, rituals, performance and art.

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