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Literature as resistance in the Maori Renaissance: Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Alan Duff

Wilson, J. M. (2009) Literature as resistance in the Maori Renaissance: Patricia Grace, Witi Ihimaera, Alan Duff. Anglistik: Journal of International English Studies. 20(1), pp. 173-186. 0947-0034.

Item Type: Article
Abstract: This paper refers to changing race relations in Aotearoa/New Zealand over the last thirty years, focusing on how in key texts of the Maori Renaissance, resistance to racial inequality, colonial land appropriation and neocolonial hegemonies is represented. It argues that thematic, linguistic, generic forms of resistance which are important to the recuperative project of contemporary Maori writing are compromised by the inevitable impact of first world politics, economics and systems of production and reception in the white settler society of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The paper identifies different types of literary resistance stemming from the Maori’s minority status and historical disadvantage. Its main focus is on Patricia Grace’s short story “Parade” (1975), Potiki (1986) and Tu (2004) in which themes of resistance are represented through an indigenous aesthetics which also marks ethnic difference. Alan Duff’s Once Were Warriors (1990), in repositioning the Maori in relation to the mainstream culture as authors of their own misfortunes, argues for resistance to Maori cultural and economic disadvantage; and in Witi Ihimaera’s The Whale Rider (1987) and also in The Dream Swimmer (1997) resistance is textually coded through the use of universalising mythologies and genres like magic realism, fable and the fantastic, and ‘glocal’, transnational representations of Maori cultural specificity. The Maori Renaissance emerged at a time when race relations were being radically revised, and the already ambivalently emplaced Pakeha white settler was being repositioned in relation to the Maori. Their interrelationship can be perceived in terms of a political struggle over the middle ground of New Zealand culture, as the impact of the global marketplace by the 1990s meant that resistant, revisionary and interrogative perspectives were being superseded by more homogenizing, universalist discourses on race, belonging and identity. It concludes that the recent shift to more ‘collusive’, hybridised discourses suggests that resistance in Maori writing is either disappearing or being recoded.
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature > PR8309 English literature: Provincial, local, etc. > PR9639.3 New Zealand literature
Creators: Wilson, Janet M
Faculties, Divisions and Institutes: University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
University Faculties, Divisions and Research Centres - OLD > Research Centre > Centre for Critical and Creative Writing
Faculties > Faculty of Education & Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Research Centres > Centre for Critical and Creative Writing
Date: March 2009
Date Type: Publication
Page Range: pp. 173-186
Journal or Publication Title: Anglistik: Journal of International English Studies
Volume: 20
Number: 1
Language: English
ISSN: 0947-0034
Status: Published / Disseminated
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