Pacifica Black: Colloquium on the Diaspora (Course or Curricular Materials)
Title: Pacifica Black: Colloquium on the Diaspora
Author: Quito Swan
Abstract: Pacifica Black is focused on the Black Diaspora in the Southern Pacific, particularly across Australia, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, New Zealand, Fiji and New Caledonia. It is an extension of a 2014 National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Faculty, in which Professor Quito Swan conducted extensive research in the region. The Atlantic, Indian and Pacific Ocean have historically been in constant political dialogue. Movements for Black Power, sovereignty, decolonization, land rights, self-determination, women’s rights, environmental justice and indigenous culture critically impacted the South Pacific. Yet, this class is not simply about Blacks in the South Pacific. Pacifica Black asks what happens when we centralize—as opposed to marginalize—the Black Pacific experience in how we study the African Diaspora? And if we take the Pacific as a Diasporic “starting place,” major crossroads or “hub,” how does that impact how we view the global black experience, historically speaking and in the contemporary world? Even still, when we comparatively think from the archipelagoes of the Pacific, it puts us in direct conversation with the politics and cultural experience of the Caribbean and Indian Ocean worlds. As such, this class will explore the wider African Diaspora experience but thru the lens of the South Pacific ideas, worldviews and experiences.
Battling the Jelly Fish Baby Makers: Black Women, Black Power and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Battling the Jelly Fish Baby Makers: Black Women, Black Power and the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement
Author: Quito Swan
Abstract: For generations, Black communities of the South Pacific have struggled against environmental racism. Across the region, slavery, “black birding,” genocide, political incarceration, sexual abuse, stolen generations, police brutality, whitening, violence, colonialism and ecological devastation were household names as common as breadfruit, sandalwood, canoes and cassava. From the 1960-80s, Black women across captured lands such as Australia, Aotearoa, Fiji, Vanuatu and New Caledonia battled these scourges through Black Power, decolonization and women’s movements. In struggle, they raised arms, consciousness, rifles, liberation flags, families, questions about gender, spirits, instruments, solar panels, farms, cups of kava, resources, deities, voices and pens alike.
In the 1970s, Pacific nuclear testing struck at the heart of these issues. In giving birth to deformed “jelly fish babies,” Black women felt the full weight of the crippling effects of radiation exposure. In 1975, they responded via the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific Movement (NFIP). NFIP clearly recognized the connections between colonialism and ecological injustice—the jellyfish baby makers tested nuclear weapons in the region because colonized Black people populated it. As such, the region could only become environmentally healthy by regaining political sovereignty. Evoking the name of a Tongan war club, NFIP’s newspaper Povai became a regional voice for decolonization. While forging relationships with counterparts across the Atlantic and Indian worlds, these freedom fighters were harassed and subjected to intense surveillance. Their experiences and critiques of feminism are critical to understanding Africana ideas about liberation, the environment, mothering and sovereignty.
Conference Name: National Council on Black Studies Conference
Pauulu’s Diaspora: Black Power, Crossroads and the South Pacific (Conference Paper/Presentation)
Title: Pauulu’s Diaspora: Black Power, Crossroads and the South Pacific
Author: Quito Swan
Abstract: Pauulu's Diaspora is focused on Black Power, decolonization and environmental justice in the South Pacific (1960-1970s) through the experiences of Roosevelt “Pauulu” Browne. An ecological engineer from Bermuda, Browne was critically involved in indigenous political struggles in the Pacific and the spread of Black Power, inviting Black activists from the region to Atlanta's Congress of African Peoples (1970) and Tanzania’s Sixth Pan-African Congress (1974). Across southern hemispheric archipelagos and crossroads, Browne forged relationships with artists, exiles and activist scholars. Ships, airports, villages, immigration depots, planes, buses, railway stations and street corners served as dynamic hubs where boundaries of race, power, class, colonialisms, identity, nationalisms, gender and ethnicity could be intensified and transformed. “Pauulu's Diaspora” shows how these mobile metropoles and travel spaces have historically functioned as dynamic sites of knowledge production, political transformation and Diaspora creation.
Conference Name: Immigration, Displacement and Movements of People of African descent: Renegotiating Identities, Languages and Public Policy