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Learning an Inclusive Blue Humanities: Oceania and Academia through the Lens of Cinema

1
School of English and Digital Humanities, University College Cork, T12 K8AF Cork, Ireland
2
Department of English, St. John’s University, New York, NY 11439, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Humanities 2020, 9(3), 67; https://doi.org/10.3390/h9030067
Received: 12 February 2020 / Revised: 20 July 2020 / Accepted: 20 July 2020 / Published: 22 July 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue World Literature and the Blue Humanities)
Hollywood films such as Pixar’s Moana (2016) and Warner Brothers’ Aquaman (2018) have drawn on the aesthetics and stories of the island cultures of Oceania to inform their narratives. In doing so, these works have both succeeded and failed to respect and engage with oceanic cultural knowledge, providing a cultural vehicle to expand communication, while also exploiting Oceanic culture for financial gain. Cultural tropes and stereotypes pose a heavy intellectual burden that neither film fully shoulders, nor are the complexities of their content acknowledged. Moana sought to enlarge the franchise of the “Disney Princess” genre, but could not avoid issues of cultural appropriation and tokenism becoming entangled with an ongoing process of engagement. Moana’s desire to represent the cultural memory of Oceania raises questions, but while Pixar presents digital fantasy, Aquaman hides its global ambitions beneath star Jason Momoa’s broad shoulders. If the blue humanities is to follow the seminal postcolonial scholarship of Tongan and Fijian cultural theorist Epeli Hau’ofa by exploring a counter-hegemonic narrative in scholarly treatment of the global oceans, then how can it respond with respect? This risk applies equally to academic literary inquiry, with a more inclusive mode of receptive and plural blue humanities as an emerging response. View Full-Text
Keywords: blue humanities; Oceania; First Peoples; film studies; post-colonial theory; reflection blue humanities; Oceania; First Peoples; film studies; post-colonial theory; reflection
MDPI and ACS Style

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

AMA Style

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/h9030067

Chicago/Turabian Style

Smith, James L.; Mentz, Steve. 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

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