Latest Island Studies journal features social justice activism and advocacy

"Whakaako Kia Whakaora - Educate to Liberate" . . . part of a Polynesian Panthers mural as street art in Auckland's Karangahape Road. Image: Emory Douglas, Huriana Kopeke-Te Aho, Numangatini Mackenzie, Toa Taihia, Tigilau Ness, Chris McBride/

Asia Pacific Report

A new edition of the Okinawan Journal of Island Studies features social justice island activism, including a case study of Aotearoa New Zealand’s Pacific Media Centre, in what the editors say brings a sense of “urgency” in the field of diversity, equity, and inclusion in scholarship.

In the editorial, the co-editors — Tiara R. Na’puti, Marina Karides, Ayano Ginoza, Evangelia Papoutsaki — describe this special issue of the journal as being guided by feminist methods of collaboration.

They say their call for research on social justice island activism has brought forth an issue that centres on the perspectives of Indigenous islanders and women.

“Our collection contains disciplinary and interdisciplinary research papers, a range of contributions in our forum section (essays, curated conversations, reflection pieces, and photo essays), and book reviews centred on island activist events and activities organised locally, nationally, or globally,” the editorial says.

“We are particularly pleased with our forum section; its development offers alternative forms of scholarship that combine elements of research, activism, and reflection.

“Our editorial objective has been to make visible diverse approaches for conceptualising island activisms as a category of analysis.

‘Complexity and nuance’
“The selections of writing here offer complexity and nuance as to how activism shapes and is shaped by island eco-cultures and islanders’ lives.”

The co-editors argue that “activisms encompass multiple ways that people engage in social change, including art, poetry, photographs, spoken word, language revitalisation, education, farming, building, cultural events, protests, and other activities locally and through larger networks or movements”.

Thus this edition of OJIS brings together island activisms that “inform, negotiate, and resist geopolitical designations” often applied to them.

Geographically, the islands featured in papers include Papua New Guinea, Prince Edward Island, and the island groups of Kanaky, Okinawa, and Fiji.

Among the articles, Meghan Forsyth’s ‘La langue vient de la musique’: Acadian song, language transmission, and cultural sustainability on Prince Edward Island engagingly examines the “sonic activism” of the Francophone community in Canada’s Prince Edward Island.

“Also focused on visibility and access, David Robie’s article ‘Voice of the Voiceless’: The Pacific Media Centre as a case study of academic and research advocacy and activism substantiates the need for bringing forward journalistic attention to the Pacific,” says the editorial.

Dr Robie emphasises the need for critical and social justice perspectives in addressing the socio-political struggles in Fiji and environmental justice in the Pacific broadly, say the co-editors.

In the article My words have power: The role of Yuri women in addressing sorcery violence in Simbu province of Papua New Guinea, Dick Witne Bomai shares the progress of the Yuri Alaiku Kuikane Association (YAKA) in advocacy and peacebuilding.

In La Pause Décoloniale’: Women decolonising Kanaky one episode at a time, Anaïs Duong-Pedica, “provides a discussion of French settler colonialism and the challenges around formal decolonisation processes in Kanaky”.

Inclusive feminist thinking
The article engages with “women’s political activism and collaborative practice” of the podcast and radio show La Pause Décoloniale.

The co-editors say the edition’s forum section is a result of “inclusive feminist thinking to make space for a range of approaches combining scholarship and activism”.

They comment that the “abundance of submissions to this section demonstrates the desire for academic outlets that stray from traditional models of scholarship”.

“Feminist and Indigenous scholar-activists seem especially inclined towards alternative avenues for expressing and sharing their research,” the coeditors add.

Eight books are reviewed, including New Zealand’s Peace Action: Struggles for a Decolonised and Demilitarised Oceania and East Asia, edited by Valerie Morse.

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