This essay will explore the complex relationship between Pacific Islander Literature and the “Blue Humanities,” navigation traditions and canoe aesthetics, and Chamoru migration and diaspora. First, I will chart the history, theory, and praxis of Pacific voyaging traditions; the colonial history of restricting indigenous mobilities; and the decolonial acts of seafaring revitalization in the Pacific (with a specific focus on Guam). Then, I will examine the representation of seafaring and the ocean-going vessel (the canoe) as powerful symbols of Pacific migration and diasporic cultural identity in the context of what Elizabeth DeLoughrey termed, “narrative maritime legacies” (2007). Lastly, I will conduct a close-reading of the avant-garde poetry collection, A Bell Made of Stones
(2013), by Chamoru writer Lehua Taitano. As I will show, Taitano writes about the ocean and navigation in order to address the history and traumas of Chamoru migration and diaspora. In terms of poetic form, I will argue that Taitano’s experimentation with typography and visual poetry embodies Chamoru outrigger design aesthetics and navigational techniques. In the end, I will show how a “Blue Humanities” approach to reading Pacific Islander literature highlights how the “New Oceania” is a profound space of Pacific migration and diasporic identity.
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