Figuring the Pacific: Aotearoa and Pacific cultural studies

Figuring the Pacific Aotearoa and Pacific cultural studies

Edited by Howard McNaughton and John Newton

(Out of print)

December 2005
136pp, paperback
ISBN: 978-1-877257-38-9

How to figure the Pacific? This has puzzled and intrigued people for the better part of a millennium.

Many would now ask in what terms we may talk of a singular Pacific.

The problem is an ancient one, as shown in the lead essay here, Robert Sullivan’s dazzling account of the spiral and the spiderweb as figures of multiplicity in the face of a reductivist mindset such as John Newton observes in the politics of ‘one rule for all’.

Between the two, this book offers numerous fascinating and complex figurations:

  • Mike Linzey on the architectural sign-structure of Te Papa
  • Adrian Bennett on the marginalisation of some more negative first encounter narratives
  • Frances Kelly on the convict body and ‘savage’ physiognomy
  • Allen Meek on the virtual giant body – the King Kong – of the colonised other
  • Daniel Bedggood on ‘fatal impact’ pathologies of Pacific bodies as seen by Oliver Sacks
  • Lisa Perrott on the slippery multiplicities of cultural memory as applied to the New Zealand Wars
  • Howard McNaughton on the regressive human zoo staged in 1906 for the Christchurch International Exhibition

The collection concludes with a masterful essay by Ian Wedde, deftly engaging with many filaments of the book, from Newton’s comments on the political moment of its conception to Sullivan’s pronouncement of a ‘new culture spiral passing through the stomach of colonialism and out its mouth’.

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