Globalization and the Image I: Imagining the Global
World Environments: Mapping a Post-Natural Geography
Do not cite
without permission of the author.
Two key points in examining differing forms of globalization in Oceania (the preferred term for the islands that form the heart of the world's largest ocean, the Pacific): first, Oceania is not an exceptional place that is before language and beyond price. Rather, gift economies and other non-monetary economies exist alongside global finances in Oceania, as in most of the world. Second, the ocean is both natural and cultural. More than 40,000 years ago, people began traversing this region, first Pacific Islander settlers and travelers, then beginning in the sixteenth century European and, later, U.S. sailors. Water becomes Oceania, is navigated using star charts, wind compasses, patterns of phosphorescence and ocean swell, and maps of it are passed down orally from one navigator-priest to another. For one hundred years European and U.S. powers prohibited Islanders from seafaring in Oceania (Lepowsky 52, Howard 131), drawing boundaries across Linnaean maps to create colonial groupings and then nations. Contemporary Oceanic navigators, writers, and artists recover views of the ocean as bridge rather than barrier.
Oceania's geography has thus been shaped by Pacific Islander settlers, navigators, and travelers, by colonialism, by imperialism, and by decolonization. Marked by human intervention and understanding, in all of these overlapping eras Oceania is as much cultural as it is natural.
Elsewhere I investigate the way gift economies and global finances coexist in the Pacific; here let us note that the Pacific economies that proceed alongside world movements of capital arise from particular configurations of the region's geography and, more broadly, revise ideas about the role geography plays in globalization. Begin by noting that Oceania is and has long been both regional and global, and that Oceania continues to expand in economic and cultural forms not accounted for in current globalization or development studies. Further, Oceania comes into being as differing peoples create distinct maps of the region. That leads to the important if basic observation that there is no completely natural geography, much as there is no completely natural Oceania. Both geography and Oceania arise from culture and nature, created by people marked by their ethos as much as by the land and sea they observe in descrying the earth's contours or a particular region therein.
Even an indigenous globalization, such as that expressed by Epeli Hau'ofa in his poetic manifesto "Our Sea of Islands" (1993), moves toward seeing the world as post-natural, the world's environments shaped in relation to the human beings who apprehend them. More, geography, which derives from the Greek geographein and means to describe [literally, to scratch or write] the world's surface, plays a key role in this Oceanic globalization as in all other forms of globalization. As I shall suggest, geography's persistent importance overturns one of the tenets central to many theories of globalization. In Oceania's post-natural geographies, the indigenous and the global are not opposing terms, the one relying on roots sunk deep in native ground, the other on routes far-flung across the globe. The peoples of Oceania's continuing movement and expansion, represented in Hau'ofa's work, represents an on-going process of globalizing the indigenous. That leads us to another feature of contemporary Oceania, the concomitant process of indigenizing globalization.
To first examine the ways in which people in Oceania are globalizing the indigenous, Hau'ofa's essay "Our Sea of Islands" focuses upon the vast and expanding region of Oceania. In his analysis the Pacific, which spans one-fifth of the world, contains deep currents of history, culture, and exchange that by extension revise many current theories of globalization. Hau'ofa counters long-standing U.S. and European images of the islands as bits of land adrift in an isolating sea with even longer-standing Pacific Islander images of the islands as connected by the waters that form seaways of travel and trade. The shift in imagery reveals dramatic and previously inconceivable concepts and practices: far from conventional economic and cultural wisdom, the islands are not inevitable dependents of the global powers. Instead, just as the islands and ocean are always connected, so too the peoples who live in Oceania have long been interdependent. "There are no bounded economies in the region" ("South Pacific" 11), notes Hau'ofa, and the oceanic islands are not tiny. "Oceania is not small," he declares, "it is huge and growing bigger every day" ("Sea" 6).
Hau'ofa documents the process he terms "world enlargement," wherein Pacific Islanders continue to move between "home" islands and the largest "Pacific Island cities" in the world, including Auckland and Los Angeles. (Hau'ofa's own biography exemplifies similar travel, between his birth land Papua New Guinea, his ethnic homeland Tonga, and his adopted home Fiji, where he has been a fiction-writer, anthropologist, professor of development, and is currently director of the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture.) Islanders continue traditional practices of navigating the region to practice gift economies and reciprocity (activities that comprises almost eighty percent of the region's economies). People travel within and across the Pacific to bring, for example, the Pacific root, kava, and art, tatau, to other parts of the ever-expanding Oceania. Here, Oceania itself is and has been for ages both regional and global. More, this Oceania anticipates and substantiates Arjun Appadurai's recent call, in Globalization (2001), for studies of "grassroots globalization" or "globalization from below." What Hau'ofa documents are the ways that people in Oceania are globalizing the indigenous.
The concomitant Oceanic move to indigenize globalization is perhaps most evident in Albert Wendt's novel Black Rainbow (1992). The novel opens in a futuristic New Zealand, an ostensible utopia in which the processes of globalization are complete. The world is governed by Joseph Starr Linn and twelve other presidents who own and control the major multi-national corporations. The presidents eliminate war, death, and poverty, but also ban history, metaphysics, privacy and any news that is not good news. As the President's name indicates with its implicit references to Joseph Stalin and Ringo Starr (and perhaps even the mid-twentieth-century exotic dancer Blaze Starr), this global power is both tyrannical and media-driven, almost pornographic in the performances it demands of its citizens.
At the novel's opening, the main character and narrator has just spent twelve years relinquishing his personal history to a Tribunal that prescribes the official process of Dehistorying. Having completed this process, the appropriately unnamed narrator becomes an Ideal Citizen, but must search for his family, whom the Tribunal has hidden from him. All the while he must elude murderous pursuers and follow directions that read like a Monopoly game writ large across New Zealand ("[C]ollect $1000," "You have finally passed GO. The chase is on" [37, 42]). The Atlantic City boardwalk, superimposed upon Pacific New Zealand's landscape, becomes what the Tribunal terms the Game of Life. Late in the novel the narrator learns that his Quest, his Game, has been broadcast the whole while as a hit television show the entire world is watching. "Surveillance was total" (229), the narrator states, identifying the panoptical basis of the Tribunal's power.
Just as all geography is made by people describing the earth's surface, and the geography exists rather in the description than the earth itself, so too all environments in this book are post-natural, altered and created by people. The narrator drives through "rolling man-made pine forests"; in the Tribunal's central twenty-seven sky-scrapers, all of which are ninety-nine stories high, "No live vegetation was allowed in the complex. All of it was art"; the Puzzle Palace, the Tribunal's central building of power, named after the title of James Bamford's exposé of the U.S. National Security Agency, contains suites "named after indigenous trees, many now extinct"; nature and manufacture become inseparable in such geographic features as "the forest of cloned apartments" and "mountains and cliffs and canyons of buildings" (38, 69, 177, 79, 264). This depiction is related to the idea that culture has become a second nature, as Fredric Jameson suggests on the opening page of Postmodernism (1991) when he declares that "nature is gone for good," and that "'culture' has become a veritable 'second nature'" (ix). In Jameson's work as in the Frankfurt School theorists' considerations of "second nature," culture becomes a second-order nature, for instance in the form of Walter Benjamin's Parisian Arcades, antecedents of shopping malls, where images and buying are naturalized. For Benjamin there are still places outside the Arcade, where something other than culture's second nature might be; Jameson takes this idea one step further, suggesting that nature is gone, and that we are left with only culture. (The phrase "second nature," in both the Frankfurt School and in Jameson, suggests implicitly that there is or was a first-order nature; in Jameson that is the nature that is gone for good.)
What Wendt's portrayal of culture and nature enables us to discern, I shall argue, is distinct from Jameson's idea. Culture and nature reciprocally shape one another, and that mutual interaction creates the closest we can get to a first-order environment. Wendt emphasizes that culture shapes the way we see and experience nature, and thus (as the Frankfurt School and Jameson suggest) culture is naturalized and becomes second nature. But Wendt's focus upon indigenous geographies adds a new component to the global utopia and to theories of second nature. Sometimes we see nature through or within the cultures of globalization, sometimes through or within other, here indigenous, cultures. If nature can be see in tandem with another culture, then nature becomes a second culture; even more importantly, nature becomes a second nature. Rather than naturalizing culture, the effect is de-naturalize what were assumed to be primary or dominant associations of nature and culture and re-constitute other, residual or emergent associations of nature and culture. I will return to this point later.
The novel juxtaposes indigenous and global geographies in three primary ways that overlap and reinforce one another, revealing the place of the indigenous in globalization. First, in the course of his travels the narrator confronts his own place in New Zealand's geography and manages to identify his own race and ethnicity in a process that reveals the world utopia as a dystopia. Second, the novel's title, Black Rainbow, and one of the novel's central images and sources of insight into the earth's shapes comes from a lithograph of the same name created by Maori artist Ralph Hotere to protest French nuclear testing in the early 1990s in Oceania. Third, Wendt's novel invokes and transforms a welter of other sources, including both indigenous and international geographies, as he presents his narrator learning that his skin is brown, that history contains a goodly amount of bad news, and that geography creates not one way of seeing the earth but many.
The status of distance--and therefore of geography--is one of the concepts central to globalization studies, which focus on three hallmarks: the "abolition of trade barriers and liberalization of markets," the "standardization and homogenization" of goods and cultures, and the "abolition of distance and time" (Hobsbawm 64, 66, 62). Along these lines, globalization has been credited with freeing the flow of capital (Barber 13, Held, et al, 165-67), promulgating a monoculture (Friedman 102, 196, Schiller quoted in Buell 1), erasing distance and ending history (Carey 2, Held, et al. 28, Robertson 6). Two of these three claims are contested: some scholars question how free capital is, suggesting that the "the free market is a construction of state power" (Gray 7, 211), and others argue that "globalization is not the story of cultural homogenization" (Appadurai "Modernity," 11), but the assertion that distance and time are abolished are usually not re-considered. Even more measured formulations of what happens to distance in globalization speak of "time-space compression" or "action at a distance," (Harvey 147, Giddens 4). That might be true for the digital information or capital that travels the world in electronic seven-league boots. But even the "transnational capitalist class" that Leslie Sklair identifies as central to global power do not fit those boots. The process of globalizing indigeneity that Hau'ofa describes (recall the Oceanians who travel and trade around the world) and the process of indigenizing globalization that Wendt portrays both rely upon the differing forms of distance and of geography that continue to shape the world and the global.
One of the ways in which Wendt indigenizes globalization lies in his re-defining of the indigenous. If any sources are privileged in this book, the indigenous geographies are, as a way to challenge the utopia's monopoly of the entire globe. Still, Wendt transforms even these geographies, presenting his indigenous characters as a cultural and racial mix created historically from the ranks of native Maori, immigrant Pacific Islanders, and settler-descended whites who have resisted the global power of the utopia. This presentation of indigeneity reflects Wendt's current position as a Western Samoan living in Auckland, where he holds a chair in Pacific Literature and has formed alliances with Maori and whites who work to decolonize the country. Tangata Moni, the term he uses in the book for the people who resist the global utopia, bears analogous linguistic mixtures. Though Wendt provides only a literal English translation of the phrase and nowhere indicates his linguistic sources, as indicated above, Tangata is Maori for people, literally, the ones. Moni is Samoan for true, real. The only people who oppose the Tribunal are the true ones. He combines Maori, New Zealand's indigenous language, with Samoan, his own native language. In the process, he places New Zealand firmly in Oceania, as a Pacific nation rather than a distant outpost of Anglo-Celtic centers. He also provides an expansive definition of that which is indigenous, making light of cultural purists who try to fix or freeze indigenous cultures in a static past (and thereby, perhaps unintentionally, deny these cultures a present or future). His use of native Pacific languages represents another form of indigenization, here making the global novel form carry concepts known to people familiar with Oceania's languages. Here the indigenous is both rooted and routed; it is no less local, but it is also already regional and, as we shall see, global. As Teresia Teaiwa suggests, following in the Pacific paths made by Paul Gilroy and James Clifford elsewhere, "to search for roots is to find routes" (ix).
The utopia the Tangata Moni resist is ruled by "otherworlders," an English compound Wendt forms by translating and combining the Maori and Samoan words for whites or Europeans. He provides no linguistic gloss regarding this term, but as we noted previously the Maori word Pakeha means strangers, or others, (distinct from Tangata, or the ones, as the Maori referred to themselves); the Samoan word Papalagi means literally skybreakers, referring to those who broke through the sky's horizon from worlds then quite other to Oceania. (The terms Pakeha and Papalagi form part of the lingua franca known to all residents of New Zealand, Australia, and the South Pacific.) The Tangata Moni history is that when the thirteen presidents, "who owned and controlled the major multinational corporations, established the present international system of otherworlder control through Tribunals and reodinarination centres, the erasure of the Tangata Moni and anyone else who challenged the system was almost total" (158).
The narrator, as he learns about himself, is astonished to find that he is a Tangata Moni who has been twice reordinarinised (that is, made ordinary in a process that completely changes a person's identity). He is born Patimaori Jones, and joins the notorious Black Mana gang (Pati is Wendt's first name in Samoan--so the name Patimaori again combines Samoan and Maori languages and identities; Black Mana means Black Power, fusing black U.S. sovereignty struggles with Pacific ones); he lives his second life as Supremo Jones, surveillance specialist for the president until he "reverts" to savagery when he begins to enjoy deconstructing (Wendt's word) the president's enemies, and then Eric Mailei Foster, "a bank clerk," yet "another character out of fiction rooted in one of Franz Kafka's faceless nightmares" (229). The narrator's increasing knowledge of his original Tangata Moni identity and the programming of his other identities allows him to grapple with his history in relation to the utopia's. The Tribunal's otherworlders--even in the linguistic roots of their very name--are defined in relation to the Tangata Moni they wiped out in creating the utopia.
The knowledge the Tangata Moni characters give the narrator allow him to read the utopia differently: "to know our past was to know that our 'utopia' was a lie, an evil" (255). The basis of that knowledge is maps, a different way of seeing the geography of the city, the country, the world. "'A city is layers and layers of maps and geographies, layers of them, centuries of it,'" a Tangata Moni character Manu declares, "'We were the first, our ancestors, no matter what lies the Tribunal says. So our maps are at the bottom of the blood heap. They're still they're though the bloody otherworlders have tried to fucking well erase them. As long as we survive '" (134, ellipses in original). The declaration connects space and time, maps and histories: even though some maps attempt to spatialize time, maps still tell a story in time, representing both synchronic and diachronic descriptions of the earth. The ancestral maps present a geography alternative to the Tribunal's, which cannot be erased or subsumed into the official maps.
Wendt does not glorify these prior maps or assert that it is possible to gain easy access to them. His paragraph begins with a bold catalogue of alternative corridors, and a statement of defiance. It ends, however, on a conditional note that indicates survival is not taken for granted. Tangata Moni geographies are threatened, but they exist at the foundations and interstices of the Tribunal's absolute conceptions of space; as such they contradict assertions that the only time that exists is now. The geographies of globalization, by extension, exist in relation (but not in binary relation) to indigenous geographies. The interstitial and overlaying geographies central to globalizing the indigenous and indigenizing globalization rely upon conceptions and qualities of both depth and surface, the local and global, that which is territorialized and deterritorialized. (We lose the certainty of aligning the indigenous with depth, the local, the territory, but gain a recognition of the way the indigenous acts within and alongside global circuits.)
Wendt's global utopia is colorblind; it completely erases race and awareness of race, much as it obliterates memory. The narrator recovers his ethnic and racial identity as he recovers his life story. He recalls his first meetings with his wife, when he says, "I noticed for the first time that she was brown. And so was I" (193). The recovered memory suggests the impossibility of banning history, something hinted at even in the beginning of the novel when the narrator completes the process of relinquishing his own history. Telling the past makes it present even as it is relinquished, one possible reason why for some citizens the process of Dehistorying never ends. Erasing race, like erasing the past, is part of the way the utopia denies identity. Even after Wendt's character realizes that his skin is brown, he says, "we were different from the others. Just in skin. For we were of them in every other way" (193). The Tribunal's philosophy of Ordinaryness makes citizens so indistinguishable from one another that virtually no difference is allowed, and no identity permitted.
Just as the narrator's wife triggers his initial realization of his own skin color, so too in the first two chapters, the only ones in which she appears as herself, she hints at other ways in which history is present. On an early morning walk to the summit of Maungakiekie, the bare volcanic cone known in English as One Tree Hill (a prominent geographical feature of Auckland rendered tribute by U2 in a song of the same title), the narrator's wife declares, "They are still here, aren't they? The Pakeha have changed even the vegetation, but they're still here." When the narrator pretends not to understand, and asks who she is talking about, she spells it out: "The original people .[T]hey'll always be here" (12). One Tree Hill is so named because it features a lone pine tree that spires against the sky in Auckland; the pine tree is non-native to New Zealand, brought by the white settlers to whom the wife refers; before Pakeha settlers displaced them, Maungakiekie held the largest, most populous Maori settlement in the area. On One Tree Hill, Pakeha changed the vegetation from forests into the grassy plain of the cone and into the city Auckland. The narrator, a vegetarian, understands his wife's point, and that day tells the Tribunal, "You even turned Maungakiekie into pasture and therefore into meat" (16). Forests become grass to feed the sheep that the Pakeha eat, changing not only vegetation but also the geography, the forms of land ownership, and the very economy.
The next day the wife reinforces her point, carrying the Ralph Hotere lithograph, Black Rainbow/ Moruroa, with them to the top of Maungakiekie: "'As she circled the Memorial [an obelisk dedicated to the Maori] she held the lithograph out in front of her, like an icon .[S]he held the lithograph above her head, with the Black Rainbow pointed at the sun. As the sun rose the lithograph's clock of doom recorded its rising. Then in an ancient language I'd not heard before, she sang to those who'd been there before us" (18). The scene connects the Black Rainbow lithograph with both the original inhabitants and their geography, and foretells the most important part of the narrator's Quest. The lithograph features a "thick black arch" as the rainbow, with "numbers, 1 to 14, on either side of the upsurging cloud" forming what the narrator calls the clock of doom (10). The numbers serve as a countdown to the narrator's realization that indigenous people were trampled to achieve the global utopia. In a reading very much related, the numbers could also stand for the stations of the cross (pertinent to Hotere's Catholic background), and therefore for a crucified people who will rise again. (In line with this latter reading, Wendt notes a double meaning regarding the lithograph's presentation of black, which stands for destructive uses of power, yet bears "a double meaning: in Maori and Polynesian cultures, pouliuli or the colour black is a fertile colour, a fecund darkness" [Ellis 87]).
Early on, the narrator himself makes the connection between land and people even stronger, first when he has just memorized the map that directs the first stage of his journey to find his family (although the directions also contain what the narrator describes as "the usual truth," the declaration, "THE TRIBUNAL IS YOUR FAMILY" [35, caps in original]) he works in his garden with a spade: "Black water seeped out of each cut like blood. I remembered the Polynesian word for earth and blood was the same: eleele" (35). Wendt uses the Samoan word for earth and blood to reinforce the connection between land and people, especially the original people; remember that Maori term themselves Tangata Whenua or People of the Land. The first part of his journey makes it clear that the global utopia has spilled much of these people's blood upon the land. "Again the Hotere clock ticked in my unwilling ears, bringing with it chapters of the history of the Waikato tribes. Like the people of Maungakiekie, the Waikato tribes had been turned into grass and meat. History is madness, the Tribunal has prescribed. So I silenced the Hotere clock, pushed down on the accelerator, and sped away from history" (36-37). The ticking of the Hotere clock indicates time passing, and therefore gestures to history's continued existence. So too does the very geography of sheep paddocks the narrator observes. The Waikato Valley contains a good deal of banned history: it was home of the Maori King Movement or the Kingitanga in the nineteenth century, represents an important area of resistance during the New Zealand Wars (fought from 1845-1872). The Hotere clock ticks in relation to the land and its changed geography, indicating the way the land--in both surface and depth--attests to history.
Three times at central points in the novel, the narrator climbs volcanic cones by himself at sunrise; two of those times are associated with the Black Rainbow lithograph explicitly, and all three mark stages of recognizing the indigenous people and their geographies of the land. The first time immediately follows his wife's invocation of the Black Rainbow lithograph and the original landscape and people, when the narrator remembers the ritualistic image that will guide his journey. The second time, he has just recovered his life's memory late in the book and again feels a strong connection to the land and the original people, asking himself whether the pre-otherworlder Tangata Maori would have seen themselves as separate from their natural surroundings. The question stands, but allows him to recognize the continued presence of Maori atua or spirits and to recognize himself and all others as "walking in their footsteps" everywhere on this land.
He follows prior inhabitants, in a process that can never end. Even at this site of closest contact, the origin recedes. The narrator's recognition of these atua is crucial, however, for it places all citizens of the futuristic New Zealand in relation to Maori precedents. The recognition also guides his return to a volcanic summit when in the book's final chapters he buries the Black Rainbow lithograph in the earth at the top of Maungakiekie just as the sun rises; he smears the earth on his face and waits to be captured by the authorities, because in showing the indigenous foundations of the world utopia, he threatens the utopia's existence. (The passage interweaves Maori, Samoan, and Tongan words with English to create a bravura invocation of the Tangata Moni).
The Black Rainbow lithograph presents a powerful image throughout the novel, both in its own right and in the ways the narrator and his wife use the lithograph to invoke indigenous geographies and atua. The Black Rainbow and the novel's depiction of the Black Rainbow present an image of death and life together, of global destruction of the indigenous and indigenous creation of a differing global. The Black Rainbow image bears out the suggestion that "The image, the imagined, the imaginary-these are all terms that direct us to something critical and new in global cultural process: the imagination as a social practice" (Appadurai quoted in Gikandi 639; italics in original). The Black Rainbow answers Simon Gikandi's concern that images in globalization do not take into account material constraints--the image or the imagined that is contradicted by poverty, by death. Some images, those presented in advertisements, for one, may of course sell a fantasy. But globalization also works through images that are material and that have material and social effects; more, here images work within and beyond globalization, indigenizing the forces that would make Oceania into a nuclear testing ground for the world.
Culture, we have seen, is intimately related to these images and geographies, and Wendt examines culture explicitly as creating ways of seeing the land: "the hills were straight out of an early Colin McCahon painting. Strange how we see reality through art and the other cultural baggage we carry" (65). The welter of sources Wendt invokes and transforms stem not only from the U.S. popular and mass cultures that are often deemed one of the fatal causes or effects of globalization. He uses detective fiction, thrillers, science fiction, the social realism of much New Zealand literature, Pacific Islands anthropology and history, and images central to Maori literature, Hollywood movies, U.S. spy agency exposés, as well as the seventeenth- to nineteenth-century Japanese art of Ukiyo-e or pictures of the floating world, and the architectural marvels of the Altar of Heaven in Beijing.
This list is far from complete; the point is that Wendt plunders cultures from around the world, and suggests that it is possible to indigenize them. His narrator comes face to face with Big Nurse from Ken Kesey's One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest (1962) and Sister Honey from Janet Frame's Faces in the Water (1961), both of whom torment the narrator sexually and criticize their authors for misrepresenting them. The Robert Zemeckis film Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), in which human actors playing human characters and animated animal characters interact in the same narrative worlds, becomes a metaphor for the novel's intermingling of one created world and another (the "real" is of course yet another representation). A character from a Borges story shows up for a knife duel with the narrator, but the narrator and his opponent change the ending of the story. The novel is a storehouse of sources, making the narrative global and identifying the book's own participation in globalization. Literature of course participates in globalization even as it critiques and makes indigenous the varying world sources.
In fact, one of the primary ways in which Wendt indigenizes these various world cultures is by his narrator's learning to read the global utopia, to see it as based on attempts to obliterate other geographies. In joining the Tangata Moni, he recognizes, he joins "a centuries-old genealogy, in literature and film, of persecuted groups and minorities going underground to survive" (156). Wendt makes the genealogy literal: the Maori writer Patricia Grace becomes his narrator's biological mother in slightly renamed form, "Patricia Manaia Graceous" (one meaning of the Maori word Manaia is spirit, suggesting the form of descent Wendt claims from Grace and her work). The President tried to re-fashion the narrator's first identity, Patimaori Jones, by teaching him to read: taming him with the written word was a large part of making him become Supremo Jones. The written word incorporates Supremo Jones into the brave new world utopia, again indicating the complicity of writing with globalization. And in a particularly self-reflexive presentation of that idea, Wendt's President says, right before the narrator kills him, that one of his favorite novels is Black Rainbow.
But what Eric Mailei Foster discovers is a vast genealogy of writers that work against the utopia. Ralph Ellison, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, and Hone Tuwhare are just some of the writers he names. Donna Awatere, the author of Maori Sovereignty (1984), makes explicit the genealogy that shapes the narrator and allows him to read the utopia differently. He quotes from her work, suggesting that the Tangata Maori writers especially "gave me a voice and a gafa: 'Who I am and my relationship to everyone else depends upon my whakapapa, on my lineage, on those from I am descended. One needs one's ancestors therefore to define one's present'" (244). Gafa, Samoan for genealogy, mirrors the Maori word whakapapa which means the same thing, and which Awatere translates contextually as lineage. What is most notable here is that the narrator has recovered his genealogy and therefore his family: he can now understand fully that the Tribunal is not his family, despite their proclamations at beginning and end of the novel. If it is not possible to get outside the utopia, it is possible to trace indigenous genealogies and geographies of the global.
The narrator thus achieves a quest, but not the one intended by the Tribunal. He finds his wife in the Tribunal's power-center, the Puzzle Palace, only to learn that she and their children have been reordinarinised. They now embody the Tribunal's philosophy of Ordinariness, and are indistinguishable from other members of the Tribunal group. The narrator's family of Tangata Moni help him to resist the utopia so well that he is convicted of treason, not loving his ordinary family, and sexism. Given his choice of sentence, he rejects the utopia's ability to control identity by reprogramming people or reincarnating those who die. He chooses permanent death. Wendt adds a brief epilogue, in a chapter titled "Endings/Beginnings," the same title Keri Hulme uses to open and close of her Booker-Prize-winning novel The Bone People (1983). As does Hulme, Wendt thereby alludes to a kind of spiral narrative, one in which endings and beginnings touch and then begin or end again. The narrator and the narrative thus evade the closure demanded by Democrambo, whose name embodies a democracy as subtle as the action-hero Rambo, and who appropriately enough speaks for the Tribunal in announcing the sentence. The utopia's democracy works through violence, using Rambo's methods and film depictions that glorify the same, Wendt suggests, but it is possible to read the methods and the films against the grain. His narrator and his Tangata Moni characters choose stories--beginnings and endings--that the utopia has not anticipated. The president, for instance, suggests right before he dies that the narrator has been programmed to kill him, that the president wanted to die at the hands of someone he had formerly considered his son. In other words, the narrator would be not resisting but fulfilling the Tribunal's desires, and obeying or repealing the world utopia's mandates might mean patricide. Whether such endings are determined or over-determined, Wendt suggests that making the world indigenous and making room for indigenous worlds reveals differing narratives, specifically Tangata Moni ones. Endings and beginnings again meet.
The closeness of beginnings and endings bring us back to Hau'ofa, whose representation of Oceania and of globalization relies upon images of a sea of islands connected by the island-ocean people who travel the waters from land to land. Indeed, in some conceptions of sea and land, the islands themselves seem as mobile as the waters. Using the idea of etak or moving islands in the Caroline Islands, travelers figure their location by calculating "the rate at which one's island of departure moves away from the traveling canoe and the rate at which a second reference island moves along another prescribed star course .[T]he highest point of an island can shift from treetops to mountaintops to particular cloud formations, continuing upward to a range of constellations, depending on one's distance from that island" (Diaz and Kauanui 317). In other words, the canoe stays in one place while the points of reckoning--the islands themselves--move. By contrast early U.S. sailors deplored their own maps, and accused Pacific Islands of moving right off of them, petitioning Congress for more than thirty years in the early nineteenth century to fund a mapping expedition to fix the islands' locations. In Oceania distance becomes a powerful and relational quality, difficult to calculate due to the horizon that moves for both travelers and those who remain at home. Roots and routes exist in relation to one another, much as do nature and culture.
Let us consider again the idea that culture has become second nature. For Jameson as for the Frankfurt School theorists, discussions of second nature contain an implicit nostalgia for a time when nature contained more of the sublime power attributed to it by the Romantic movement, able to overwhelm and engulf human subjectivity. That time is the implicit first nature that precedes the second nature they discuss. For Benjamin, though, culture becomes naturalized (as a function of ideology, but also one that attests to history and provides something of a genealogy of the "natural" present in the Arcade); and it is possible that something outside the Arcade does still exist. For Jameson, nature is gone, and only the second-order nature of culture remains. In Wendt's novel, where not culture but nature itself is second nature, the nostalgia is gone. Even indigenous formulations of nature are just that, formulations, geographies of other scales and times. The presence of other cultures and natures means not that it is possible to return to a first-order, or essential, version of the indigenous or the global, the natural or the cultural. These other geographies mean that all indigenous and global natures and cultures interact and constitute one another. Oceania is global, and globalization is Oceanic.
Raymond Williams on nature is helpful here: Williams notes that the Latin source word, natura, means "the essential construction of the world" (68). Where considerations of nature usually emphasize the essential in essential construction, the constructed nature of nature (to make a point) is coterminous with nature's association with essence. Rather than being able to identify nature's "proper meaning," we are left with "a definition of a quality which becomes, through real usage, based on certain assumptions, a description of the world" (68). That backs his observation that "the idea of nature contains, though often unnoticed, an extraordinary amount of human history" (67). Mapping nature, Williams suggests, much as do Hau'ofa and Wendt, brings us to both history and geography, brings us to that which is simultaneously indigenous and global.
Appadurai, Arjun, ed. Globalization. Durham: Duke UP, 1991.
---. Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1996.
Barber, Benjamin R. McWorld vs. Jihad. 1995. New York: Ballantine Books, 1996.
Buell, Frederick. National Culture and the New Global System. Baltimore and London:
Johns Hopkins UP, 1994.
Carey, James W. Communication as Culture: Essays on Media and Society. Boston:
Unwin Hyman, 1988.
Diaz, Vicente M. and Kauanuia, J. Kehaulani. "Native Pacific Cultural Studies on the Edge." The Contemporary Pacific 13.2 (2001): 315-42.
Ellis, Juniper. "'The Techniques of Storytelling': An Interview with Albert Wendt." Ariel 28.3 (1997): 79-94.
Feinberg, Richard, ed. Seafaring in the Contemporary Pacific Islands. DeKalb:
Northern Illinois UP, 1995.
Friedman, Jonathan. Cultural Identity and Global Process. London and Thousand Oaks
CA: Sage Publications 1994.
Giddens, Anthony. Beyond Left and Right: The Future of Radical Politics. Stanford,
CA: Stanford UP, 1994.
Gikandi, Simon. "Globalization and the Claims of Postcoloniality." South Atlantic
Quarterly 100.3 (2001): 627-58.
Gray, John. False Dawn: The Delusions of Global Capitalism. New York: The New
Harvey, David. The Condition of Postmodernity. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1989.
Hau'ofa, Epeli. "The New Pacific: Integration and Independence." Class and Culture in the South Pacific. Eds. Antony Hooper, et al. Auckland: Centre for Pacific Studies, U of Auckland; Suva, Fiji: Institute of Pacific Studies, U of the South Pacific, 1987. 1-12.
---. "Our Sea of Islands." A New Oceania: Discovering Our Sea of Islands.
Eds. Eric Waddell, et al. Suva, Fiji: School of Social and Economic Development, U of the South Pacific, 1993. 2-16. Reprinted in The Contemporary Pacific 6.1 (1994): 147-61.
Held, David, et al. Global Transformations: Politics, Economics and Culture.
Cambridge: Polity Press, 1999.
Hobsbawm, Eric in conversation with Antonio Pollito. On the Edge of the New Century.
1999. Trans. Allan Cameron. New York: The New Press, 2000.
Howard, Alan. "Rotuman Seafaring in Historical Perspective." Feinberg 114-43.
Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism: Or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham: Duke UP, 1991.
Lepowsky, Maria. "Voyaging in the Louisiade Archipelago." Feinberg 34-54.
Robertson, Roland. Globalization: Social Theory and Global Culture. London and
Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, 1992.
Sklair, Leslie. The Transnational Capitalist Class. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 2001.
Teaiwa, Teresia Kieuea. Searching for Nei Nim'anoa. Suva, Fiji: Mana Publications, 1995.
Wendt, Albert. Black Rainbow. 1992. University of Hawaii P, 1995.
Williams, Raymond. "Ideas of Nature." Problems in Materialism and Culture. London:
Verso, 1980. 67-85.