Learning an Inclusive Blue Humanities: Oceania and Academia through the Lens of Cinema
I want to ask whether Ocean Studies might be better understood as if it were itself an ocean: without a singular starting point or origin; endlessly circulating. Not beyond genealogy, because nothing is, but possessed of a genealogy that is impossibly and beautifully wide. I attempt to sketch the ocean—and Ocean Studies—from the perspective of those who have not needed a ‘turn to the sea’ because we were already there.
2.1. Bodies and Authenticity
2.2. The Geometry of Ocean
3.1. Tangled Agencies and Identities
[W]hen considering the legacy of depictions of racial and ethnic diversity in Disney animated film, a retrospective view makes clear that in many ways the multiculturalism represented in the corporation’s films is indicative of and reinforces the hegemonic culture within which Disney as a corporation is firmly positioned: American, Caucasian, cis-gendered, straight, Anglo, Christian, able-bodied, etc. This is especially seen in how coloniality becomes embedded in animated depictions of other cultures despite Disney’s reported efforts to tell more authentic stories from other cultures.
3.2. Voyages for Identities
Disney’s efforts to reach out to cultural experts from the Pacific resulted in many authentic moments in its film Moana. When a major film studio becomes aware that its reasons for disregarding native advice is more to do with a possible diminishing of profits from ticket sales, it should stop and seriously consider finding an appropriate solution.
It is highly likely that at some point in time the millions of pounds of plastic products that have been manufactured as part of the Moana merchandizing campaign—such as Moana and Māui dolls, Moana-themed Lego sets, jewelry, and so forth—will likely end up littering the very ocean on which the film is based, adding to what has been termed a “plastic Paradise” (see Pyrek 2016).
In ‘Our Sea of Islands,’ Hau’ofa wrote, ‘The world of Oceania is not small; it is huge and growing bigger everyday’ (Hau’ofa 1994, p. 151). I propose that Moana serves as a contemporary wa‘a (sailing vessel) that enlarges [Indigenous] presence in the world by carrying our stories, cultures, values, traditions, and even our languages beyond the reefs of our home shores into the global domain. Of course, such voyages are not without considerable risk. What we can only ever hope for when setting out for new horizons are favorable winds, calm seas, and the skills to navigate the way ahead.
4. Oceania and Academia
Conflicts of Interest
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See https://time.com/5730892/disney-plus-content-warnings-racist-movies/ (accessed on 28 November 2019).
On the origins of the hongi, see https://www.teara.govt.nz/en/artwork/41176/origin-of-the-hongi. Accessed 19 April 2020. We thank one of our anonymous peer reviewers for suggesting this reading.
Interview written by Jerry L. Barrow. https://www.bet.com/celebrities/exclusives/aquaman-jason-momoa-entourage.html (accessed on 9 December 2019).
The YouTube clip of the dance has been viewed more than 5.5 million times as of December 2019. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vK166iSwQc (accessed on 9 December 2019).
For another recent consideration of Tupaia, see (Thompson 2019, esp. pp. 80–91).
See https://craigsantosperez.wordpress.com/2016/10/15/an-open-letter-from-two-oceanic-story-trust-polynesians/ (accessed on 17 April 2020).
See https://www.hawaii.edu/news/2018/11/27/moana-olelo-hawaii-to-schools/ (accessed on 27 March 2020).
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Smith, J.L.; Mentz, S. Learning an Inclusive Blue Humanities: Oceania and Academia through the Lens of Cinema. Humanities 2020, 9, 67. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030067
Smith JL, Mentz S. Learning an Inclusive Blue Humanities: Oceania and Academia through the Lens of Cinema. Humanities. 2020; 9(3):67. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030067Chicago/Turabian Style
Smith, James L., and Steve Mentz. 2020. "Learning an Inclusive Blue Humanities: Oceania and Academia through the Lens of Cinema" Humanities 9, no. 3: 67. https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030067