AbstractsLanguage, Literature & Linguistics

Renegotiating Stereotypes: Representations of the Pacific Woman in Selina Tusitala Marsh’s and Tusiata Avia’s Poetry

by Bradley Carl Watson

Institution: University of Otago
Year: 0
Keywords: Pacific Poetry; New Zealand Poetry; Tusiata Avia; Selina Tusitala Marsh; Pacific stereotypes; iterative poetics
Record ID: 1314748
Full text PDF: http://hdl.handle.net/10523/4886


How do cultural stereotypes change? The following thesis addresses this question by examining how repetition and reiteration of cultural stereotypes in Selina Tusitala Marsh’s and Tusiata Avia’s poetry enables cultural stereotypes of the Pacific woman’s body to be reframed. Recognising developments in technology and art, the stereotypes of the Pacific have undergone many permutations. In order to shift these permutations, this thesis argues Marsh and Avia must respond by considering content, form, context, and media, as all these elements shape the production, iteration and transformation of identities. This thesis examines how each poet employs strategies of curatorship and performance in attempt to circumvent colonial, as well as Pacific, stereotypes. By adopting stereotypes into their poetry by engaging with the imagined intimacy of the Pacific, physical images, and multimedia, the poets begin to shift the assumedly fixed perceptions of the Pacific woman and her body. This thesis demonstrates how such adoption of these cultural constructions inevitably risks the continued perpetuation of the stereotypes the poets are trying to break away from. This risk, however, is an unavoidable product when engaging with stereotypes. This thesis concludes that although Marsh and Avia sometimes repeat rather than reframe the cultural stereotypes of the Pacific woman and her body, their multifaceted approach through content, form, and media enable the necessary break away from constructions founded in the past. Furthermore, the thesis looks at the wider implications of the stereotype and considers whether the stereotype can be more than simply a pernicious concept.