Waves of destruction: Nuclear imperialism and anti-nuclear protest in the indigenous literatures of the Pacific

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Abstract

This article explores the ways in which precolonial understandings of the Pacific as a cross-cultural space involving extensive interpelagic networks of trade and cultural exchange, notably elaborated in Tongan scholar Epeli Hau‘ofa’s 1990s series of essays celebrating Oceania as a “sea of islands”, are evident in pan-Pacific indigenous protests against nuclear testing in the region. It explores indigenous literary and artistic condemnations of both French and US nuclear testing (which collectively spanned a 50-year period, 1946–1996), touching on the work of a range of authors from Aotearoa New Zealand, Kanaky/New Caledonia and Tahiti/French Polynesia, before discussing a recent UK government-funded research project focused on the legacy of nuclear testing in the Marshall Islands. The project involved Marshallese poet and environmental activist Kathy Jetñil-Kijiner, and a range of her antinuclear poetry commissioned for the project (including “History Project”, “Monster” and “Anointed”) are analysed in the closing sections of this article.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)585-600
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Volume54
Issue number5
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Feb 2019

Keywords

  • nuclear
  • Oceania
  • Marshall Islands
  • US
  • France
  • Moruroa

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