2017 PAMLA Conference Special Events

At this year’s PAMLA, we are holding a number of special conference events sure to be truly memorable. Please join us at these events, and invite your friends and colleagues to do so as well. They are free, and all are welcome.

One of this year’s not-to-miss special events is the Creative Artist Spotlight event, in the Ching Conference Center of Eiben Hall, on Friday evening, November 10, from 4:40-5:40 pm. Come for our Creative Artist Spotlight, and stay for our annual PAMLA Reception immediately following. This year’s Creative Artist Spotlight will feature Dr. Vilsoni Hereniko, Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa. His presentation, Let the Mountain Speak (2017): A Screening and Discussion,” will feature a screening of Hereniko’s Let the Mountain Speak (2017), a short film in honor of Mauna Kea, Hawai‘i Island’s highest peak, and a discussion of the film and other of Hereniko’s creative or scholarly works.

Vilsoni Hereniko, Professor of Creative Media at the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa, was born in Rotuma. Hereniko holds a doctorate in English from the University of the South Pacific. He is the author of numerous creative and scholarly works, including the critical study Woven Gods: Female Clowns and Power in Rotuma (1995), the stage drama The Last Virgin in Paradise (with Teresia Teaiwa, 2001), and the feature film The Land Has Eyes/Pear ta ma ‘on maf (2004), which has garnered several awards, including Best Dramatic Feature at the 2004 Toronto Imaginative Film and Media Arts Festival. Hereniko also served as editor of The Contemporary Pacific: A Journal of Island Affairs (2002-2008) and founding editor of Talanoa: Pacific Literature Series. At present, Hereniko is producing a feature film with his wife, producer Jeanette Hereniko-Paulson—an adaptation of Robert Barclay’s 2002 novel Melal.

Please join us for this special event, free and open to all.

Please also join us for another of the highlights of this year’s PAMLA Conference: the “2017 PAMLA Forum: En-visioning Travel in Oceania,” introduced and moderated by Professors Katherine Kinney and Stanley Orr, respectively PAMLA’s First Vice President and Second Vice President. This year’s Forum will be held immediately following our brief PAMLA General Membership Meeting and Reception (beginning at 4:40 pm in the Ching Conference Center). The Forum, to be held from 5 – 6:30 pm on Saturday, November 11, in the Ching Conference Center of Eiben Hall, at Chaminade University of Honolulu, will explore the ways in which influential scholar Epeli Hau’ofa’s transformational perspective has flourished in Oceanic scholarship, fiction, and cinema, with presentations by four Oceanic notables: a scholar of travel within Oceania, and a filmmaker, psychologist, and author who worked together to help create Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka.

With his 1993 essay “Our Sea of Islands,” Epeli Hau’ofa changed the course of Oceanic Studies. Countering Western notions of Pacific Islanders as castaways on remote islands, Hau’ofa reminds us that Oceania has always been a world of indigenous travelers who purposefully traverse their far-flung archipelagoes. Hau’ofa’s much-needed corrective comes down to a matter of vision. “When those who hail from continents see a Polynesian or Micronesia island,” Hau’ofa observes, “they naturally pronounce it small or tiny. Their calculation is based entirely on the extent of the land surfaces they see.”

Taking a wider view, Hau’ofa exhorts us to locate islands and oceans together within a larger cultural context:

[I]f we look at the myths, legends, and oral traditions, and the cosmologies of the peoples of Oceania, it becomes evident that they did not conceive of their world in such microscopic proportions. Their universe comprised not only land surfaces, but the surrounding ocean as far as they could traverse and exploit it, the underworld with its fire-controlling and earth-shaking denizens, and the heavens above with their powerful gods and named stars and constellations that people could count on to guide their ways across the seas. Their world was anything but tiny. They thought big and recounted their deeds in epic proportions.

This year’s PAMLA Forum honors the ways in which Hau’ofa’s wide-angle perspective has flourished in Oceanic scholarship, fiction, and cinema. Our first speaker, Dr. Kealani Cook, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Hawai‘i, West O‘ahu, will speak about his forthcoming book Return to Kahiki: Native Hawaiians in Oceania (Cambridge UP, 2018). In this groundbreaking study, Cook illuminates the experiences of Hawaiian diplomats, missionaries, and other travelers as they voyaged throughout Oceania.

Professor Cook will be joined by filmmaker Gemma Cubero del Barrio, director of Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka, and her collaborators— Hawai‘i/Cook Islands psychologist Dr. Amelia Borofsky and Florence “Johnny” Frisbie, author of Miss Ulysses From Puka Puka (1948), a pioneering work of Polynesian literature that emerges from the adventurous tradition of Oceanic travel.

Our first Forum speaker will be Kealani Cook, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Hawai‘i, West O‘ahu. Professor Cook will present “Reading from Return to Kahiki: Native Hawaiians in Oceania.” In Return to Kahiki, Cook examines how Native Hawaiians sought to use, shape, and portray ties with other Oceanic peoples between 1850 and 1910. Cook’s publications include “Ke Ao a me Ka Pō: Postmillennial Thought and Native Hawaiian Foreign Mission Work,” which appeared in the “Pacific Currents” issue of American Quarterly. Dr. Cook’s forthcoming book Return to Kahiki: Native Hawaiians in Oceania will be published with Cambridge University Press in 2018.

Our next three Forum speakers will all discuss the atoll of Puka Puka, and the film Homecoming: A Film About Pukapuka, which is currently in production. Independent filmmaker Gemma Cubero del Barrio, the director of Homecoming, will discuss the inspirations, ideas, and challenges behind the film’s production. Gemma Cubero del Barrio started her career as Associate Producer of Lourdes Portillo’s poetic and groundbreaking documentary film Señorita Extraviada. Gemma is the director, producer, and writer of the award winning POV documentary Ella Es El Matador, and she recently completed the film Ottomaticake, which had its World Premiere at the 2017 Hawaii International Film Festival.

Our next speaker is Florence “Johnny” Frisbie, author and traveler. Florence “Johnny” Frisbie was born in Papeete, Tahiti, and grew up on Puka Puka in the Cook Islands. As a twelve year old, she started to write Miss Ulysses From Puka Puka. Published in 1948, this memoir of Oceanic life would come to be recognized as the first book written by a Polynesian woman. Frisbie followed Miss Ulysses with The Frisbies of the South Seas in 1959. Frisbie is one of the most celebrated of Oceanic authors, and she has been instrumental to the making of Homecoming.

Our final Forum speaker is Dr. Amelia Rachel Hokule’a Borofsky, a community and clinical psychologist. Dr. Borofsky has written for The Atlantic and Cook Island News, and she is also the co-editor of ReGeneration: Telling Stories From Our Twenties (2003). Borofsky lives and works in the Cook Islands as well as Hawai‘i, where she teaches courses at Hawai‘i Pacific University.

Our four PAMLA Forum speakers will help us to look at our 2017 PAMLA theme,“The Sense of Sight: Visuality, Visibility, and Ways of Seeing,” from an Oceanic direction, inviting us to consider new ways of seeing. While we, as scholars of multiple languages, literatures, and cultures, knowledgeable in postcolonial theory and multicultural, world, and diverse literatures, realize that we must continually challenge and question our own ways of seeing, our Forum speakers will never-the-less help us to think about the limitations of scholarship on Oceanic literature, film, and culture written from a Eurocentric viewpoint.

For further information about our PAMLA Creative Artist Spotlight or PAMLA Forum, please contact PAMLA Executive Director, Craig Svonkin ([email protected] or 626-354-7526).