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November 20 , 2007

Decolonizing Culture in Pacific Literature

Reading History and Trauma in Contemporary Fiction


In Decolonizing Cultures in the Pacific, Susan Y. Najita proposes that the traumatic history of contact and colonization has become a crucial means by which indigenous peoples of Oceania are reclaiming their cultures, languages, ways of knowing, and political independence. In particular, she examines how contemporary writers from Hawai‘i, Samoa, and Aotearoa/New Zealand remember, re-tell, and deploy this violent history in their work. As Pacific peoples negotiate their paths towards sovereignty and chart their postcolonial futures, these writers play an invaluable role in invoking and commenting upon the various uses of the histories of colonial resistance, allowing themselves and their readers to imagine new futures by exorcising the past.

Decolonizing Cultures in the Pacific is a valuable addition to the fields of Pacific and Postcolonial Studies and also contributes to struggles for cultural decolonization in Oceania: contemporary writers’ critical engagement with colonialism and indigenous culture, Najita argues, provides a powerful tool for navigating a decolonized future.

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