Working Session: Pacific Queer Communities and Artistic Creation: Facing Legal, Social and Lexical Constraints
Organizers: Serge Tcherkezoff, Sarah-Marie Cabon, and Loau Luafata Simanu-Klutz
This Working Session is aimed first at comparing across several Pacific societies, the current legal rights of Queer communities, those extended and those still denied. Secondly, it aims to connect the legal situation to social attitudes, expressed in everyday conversation and official discourse and particularly in the words used in the local languages when communities talk about themselves as against the language of 'others' (mainstream audience, church and state leaders, academics, etc). Thirdly, it aims at recognising the importance of creative endeavours which have been flourishing already for some time with bringing on stage “MtoF” characters, but recently entered into an absolute novelty when bringing, in playrights and literature, “FtoM” characters. Indeed, a fourth aim of the workshop would be to address the current imbalance in the scholarly and artistic dialogues with the predominance of “MtoF” versus the “FtoM” community. Why have mobilities in “MtoF” experience been especially ""visible"" to outsiders (journalists, academics, filmmakers) and publicly discussed, whilst those of “FtoM” community remained virtually invisible both within popular and scholarly discussions.
Such a broad comparative regional survey and data base has not been attempted, even if there are a few studies of the legal situation and the social attitudes published for some countries (e.g. see the important collection of Besnier and Alexeyeff 2014, and, on Tonga and Samoa, Farran and Su ªa, 2005, Farran 2014). The comparison should also bring in the picture the Francophone territories, of course French Polynesia but also New Caledonia and Wallis-Futuna as the two former Collectivities are usually overlooked in Anglophone research more broadly.
Another important issue to be confronted is the critique of the ""Melanesia/Polynesia"" binary in most literature . It has been repeatedly said that “transgenderism” is known and visible in Polynesian societies, but absent in Melanesian societies. In the light of ongoing research in Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Vanuatu this claim needs critical revaluation. Moreover this binary cannot accommodate the facts of migration and the formation of diasporic Pacific communities in many countries and the way in which Indigenous Oceanic and Western models of gender and sexuality interact in these differing contexts.
Serge Tcherkezoff, CREDO, <STcherk@pacific-credo.fr>