Informal Session: Pacific Biculturalities
Organizer: Jeannette Mageo, Washington State University (email@example.com)
This informal session is about hybridities of person—about roots and routes that are distilled in persons. Such distillations come from islanders’ far-flung transnational travels and residences, which include home countries and affiliated nations as well. They also come from inundations of foreign travelers and residents on Pacific homelands who may change these places in unpredictable ways. Islanders’ transits outward and transits back, along with those of colonists, missionaries, and more recently arriving others, generate what we might call “cultural intersubjectivities”—heavily trafficked commons betwixt and between cultures that exist on islands and in metropoles and that are affective versions of what Richard White (1991) calls “the middle ground.” Such spaces and their traffic contribute to new Pacific subjectivities. For islanders, then Pacific travels are not only outward but also inward journeys toward new manifestations of self. These inner journeys nonetheless repeat old ways of being in new keys, the novelty supplied by fresh aspirations and destinations, the continuities by deep loyalties embedded in feeling and being. The result is layerings of selves that exist as palimpsests—older texts subtly visible through newer ones written on faces and in the body—superimpositions that lend the person unexpected dimensions and depths but that also supply new personal styles of irony and humor. Biculturalities are psychological and emotive versions of what Sahlins (1981, 1985) calls “structures of conjuncture,” conjunctures that make for ambivalences and ambiguities as well as internal and external conflicts. Of course, these conjunctions are often many-stranded. “Bi” is a simplification and a trope for combinations and permutations that are more complex. Yet, by considering biculturalities this session moves from that useful fiction, “culture,” to thinking about relations between cultures within the person. There fluidities are more likely and easier to describe than boundaries. Data for this session can come from discourses of all sorts, to cases and stories, to dreams, to photographs and other forms of documentation. Informal participation but also informal papers are most welcome. Please send statements of interest and or possible paper titles to Jeannette Mageo (firstname.lastname@example.org).