Friday, July 19, 2019

Side project research: turning 1 journal article into 2

IMG_7498 So I’m working on an academic side project.

A side project, according to wikipedia, is a project undertaken by someone already known for their involvement in another project. In this case, the side project involves turning 1 recently accepted journal article into a 2nd and different (adapted and localised) journal article.

A side project is also something done on the side, which applies here given my writing occurs outside of normal work hours.

Why this side project?
1 – I’ve already done much of the work. When writing, there is always work left on the editing floor. In this case, a visit to Te Papa to research Pacific bark cloth, along with a literature review. The work got left behind in the 1st journal article. So it just makes sense to bring that work back into production and make it visible.

2 – I have been strongly encouraged. When the initial journal article was accepted by Mission Studies, Reviewer 1 noted “I am intrigued by the notion of “hapkas” christology and hope the author has a chance to expand on this analysis in subsequent research.” Then Reviewer 2 took the initiative and contacted a 2nd journal to say “I reviewed this article and thought it was so good … I thought it would be great” for this second journal. That sort of feedback and proactivity provides motivation and energy.

3 – It’s part of re-connecting to my birthplace of Papua New Guinea. It was such a thrill writing the initial article and that sense of satisfaction and re-weaving continues with this side project. I get to appreciate the bark cloth of my childhood as part of a complex cycle of art production and think again about the kin relationships that were part of raising me. I feel more centred as a human person.

4 – It’s a concrete step in a bigger project – a monograph researching hybridity and genealogy in Christology. That’s a big project. So I need ways to make it bite sized. A 2nd journal article does that, as I extend existing trajectories and develop new sections.

So what is involved this particular side project? The 1st article was for an international journal. For that journal, the article needed to communicate globally. This involved locating a specific, national, piece of research in relation to international trends in mission. Specifically, a literature review that engaged a range of authors, from a range of countries.

The second journal article is for a national journal. This article needs to communicate more locally. Specifically, more concrete detail of the actual culture. Hence editing in the notes I took from that visit to Te Papa to research Pacific bark cloth in 2016. It is such a thrill to find the Evernote entry from September 2016 and realise that 250 draft words, typed on the airplane on the return flight, are just waiting to be edited in. The result is a new section on the history of art in this particular region.

It also requires locating the research in relation to other national research. Hence deleting a range of authors from a range of countries and instead reading through the back issues of this particular national journal. It was such a thrill to find the Evernote entry with the URL of the journal article back copies, already found online, waiting to be analysed. The result is a literature review for this journal of the history of Christology in this journal over the last 30 years – of Jesus the “wontok” (relation), the clan brother, the “tatapa” (protector).

As a result, over the last 2 weeks, 1 hour a day, a very different journal article is being written. Using work already done, yet particularising, localising, enlarging my understandings of indigenous Christologies, important for my ongoing teaching as an inhabitant of Oceania, a guest on the land of another, a boy born in Melanesian.

Posted by steve at 12:15 PM

Thursday, July 04, 2019

Theological Education as Development in Vanuatu published in Sites journal

Steve Taylor, Phil King, “Theological Education as Development in Vanuatu: ‘Wayfaring’ and the Talua Ministry Training Centre,” Sites: a journal of social anthropology and cultural studies 16 (1) 2019, 135-157.

Abstract
Education is essential to development. In Pacific cultures, in which the church is a significant presence, theological education can empower agency and offer analytical frames for social critique. Equally, theological education can reinforce hierarchies and dominant social narratives. This paper provides an account of Presbyterian theological education in Vanuatu. Applying an educative capability approach to a theological education taxonomy proposed by Charles Forman brings into focus the interplay between economics, context, and sustainability as mutual challenges for both development and theological education. However Forman’s model does not accurately reflect the realities of Vanuatu. An alternative frame is proposed, that of wayfaring, in which knowledge-exchange is framed as circulating movements. Wayfaring allows theological education to be imagined as a development actor that affirms local agency, values networks, and subverts centralising models. This alternative model provides a way to envisage theological education, both historically in Vanuatu and into an increasingly networked future, as an actor in Pacific development.

Key words: Vanuatu, theological education, wayfaring, Christianity, development

Screen Shot 2019-07-04 at 5.48.31 PM

This is part of a full special issue on Christianity and Development in the Pacific, which began with Woven Together conference at Victoria University in 2016. New into the role of Principal, KCML, I used the conference as an opportunity to build connections with the Pacific, to collaborate with Phil King, in another part of the PCANZ and to learn about the partnership between PCANZ and Presbyterian Church of Vanuatu. Sites is a journal of social anthropology and cultural studies. It practices ‘delayed open access’, which means that the contents of the journal are made available in full open access 12 months after an issue is published.

I’m grateful to the conference organisors and journal editors, Philip Fountain and Geoffrey Troughton; to the Harrison Bequest which paid for one of the authors to travel to Talua for a ten-day immersion experience in 2017 and to the staff at the Archives Research Centre of the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Hocken Collections, University of Otago, Dunedin for their tending of taonga.

Posted by steve at 06:04 PM

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen theological film review

Monthly I write a film review for Touchstone (the New Zealand Methodist magazine). Stretching back to 2005, some 140 plus films later, here is the review for June 2019

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen
A film review by Rev Dr Steve Taylor

Merata Mita, Ngāti Pikiao and Ngāi Te Rangi, was a pioneering Māori filmmaker, the first Maori woman to solely write and direct a dramatic feature film. Her work included documentaries like Bastion Point: Day 507 (1980) and Patu! (1983), feature films like Mauri (1988) and music video Waka, for hip-hop artist Che Fu.

Merata became internationally respected as an indigenous film maker, teaching documentary film making at the University of Hawai’i-Manoa and recognized by the Sundance Film Festival’s Native Film Initiative.

Heperi Mita, Merata’s youngest son, born long after Bastion Point: Day 507 and Patu!, surprised by Merata’s sudden death aged 68, sets out to discover his mother. He begins by turning to the film archives at Ngā Taonga, spooling through the abundance of Merata’s film and television appearances. Having watched the past, Heperi then cleverly splices in the present, interviewing his siblings to gain their human story on his mothers cinematic past. Thus Merata becomes a film about a film, in which a film maker and her family is filmed by her family.

Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen is an uncovering of Merata’s work: located in her experience, of being Maori, raised in rural Maketu, a woman, a victim of domestic violence, a solo mother raising four children in urban Auckland. It is equally an affirmation of culture. For Merata, as Maori film maker, she is working in continuity with the carvings crafted by her grandfather for the wharenui. Both carving and film are image and story through which life speaks.

Decolonisation is related to the search for justice. Decolonisation pays attention not to individual acts of protest, but to the processes of liberation by which indigenous communities are freed from the colonial imposition of imperialism, patriarchy and racism. Decolonisation sounds academic but it is as simple as a Maori woman finding her voice, as tough as Merata turning a camera on the reality of Police brutality during the 1981 Springbook Tour.

Merata is a profoundly theological film, an indigenous meditation on resurrection. The first words we hear are theological, Heperi’s announcement that “A resurrection is taking place. Our hearts and spirit respond as the past lives again. She shows me things as I hear her again.”

At one level, it introduces Heperi’s spooling through the archives.

At another level, it affirms that the past brings revelation, ushering in a search for justice in which a whole person transformation is possible.

At times Merata felt a bit like Jesus in the garden, calling Mary Magdalene to declare to the disciples that they are now part of a new family, gathered around ‘my God and your God’ (John 20.17). These five words spoken by Mary Magdalene are an echo of the words spoken by Ruth, a migrant woman, to Naomi, a solo mother, as together they seek to find a community in which they can be fed amid the poverty of a famine.

In these five words, the resurrection becomes a call to decolonise. All those who respond to ‘my God and your God’ are finding a community in which women have voice and the poor are given daily bread. Which leaves the church – having heard ‘my God and your God’ – with the question: what might we need to decolonise?

Posted by steve at 09:45 AM

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Indigenous home-making as public theology – Wiremu Tamihana

Unknown-12 Happy Steve, stoked to have a book chapter published on the life of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana, in which I argue he’s an extraordinary public theologian.

The theme of home yields rich insights when it is examined through diverse cultural lens, in this case in relation to New Zealand history. Methodologically, an approach of biography as missiology has been used in researching the life of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana. In word and deed his reimagining of home has been outlined: in planting an alternative indigenous community, in leadership reorganisation and in public speechmaking as a set of ethical acts shaped by a christological ethic. Translation theory has clarified Tamihana’s reading of Scripture, including the reversing of what is foreign and domestic, and a household code shaped by Christology. What Wiremu Tamihana offers is a theology of homemaking as a public theology of empire resistance. His theology offers significant resources for those seeking to reimagine home in response to dominant cultures, in encouraging a Christology interwoven with ethics and the use of place-based readings to reverse categories of what is foreign and domestic. It suggests that creative responses to the empire can emerge through the ongoing renegotiation that happens as people move in the tides of history. A flexible justice-making is encouraged, one that uses the translations from the empire in resistance against the empire.

This is part of research begun in 2017, which has resulted in 3 conference papers, 1 (unsuccessful) research bid, 2 keynotes, 2 sermons, 2 short publications for the Presbyterian Church and now this longer academic piece. It is published as one of the conference papers from Australian Association of Mission Studies 2017. It was nice to slip a New Zealand indigenous story into the mix!

Details: “Indigenous home-making as public theology in the words and deeds of Maori leader, Wiremu Tamihana,” Re-imagining Home: Understanding, Reconciling and Engaging with God’s stories together, edited by Darren Cronshaw, Rosemary Dewerse and Darryl Jackson, Morling Press, 2019, 188-207.

Available from Morling Press. Thanks to Darren Cronshaw, Rosemary Dewerse and Darryl Jackson for their editorial skill, Morling and Whitley for their hospitable approach to scholars and scholarship.

Posted by steve at 10:20 PM

Thursday, May 02, 2019

change of sabbatical pace courtesy of land owners

IMG_7257 A change of sabbatical pace for the next week. After an intense period of writing, a week of indigenous learning, courtesy of land owners.

First, a weekend haerenga (journey) with Karuwha Trust. A chance to learn more about the Kingitanga and to greet Ngati hau. I did a lot of research through 2017 in relation to Wiremu Tamehana, the Kingmaker and chief of Ngati hau. This resulted in 2017 in 1 video, 4 publications, 2 conference papers and 3 talks; along with a further conference paper in 2018 (Translation and Transculturation in indigenous resistance: the use of Christian Scripture in the speeches of Wiremu Tamihana). Throughout 2018 I sought to establish contact with Tamehana’s descendants and one of my sabbatical aims was to walk his country. The weekend haeranga is a chance to do that.

Second, a visit to Te Aka Puaho and Te Maungarongo Marae. Outside study leave gives me a chance to accept a longstanding invitation to visit Maungapohatu and honour Tuhoe and Rua Kenana. I’mj looking forward to time and to hear the stories of injustice and ongoing search for justice, with the 2017 pardon of Rua Kenana.

I feel very privileged to be able to participate in these ways, as part of doing theology on the land of another.

doingtheology

Posted by steve at 07:16 PM

Monday, April 29, 2019

Mission Studies journal acceptance

Stoked to hear that my journal article – Cultural hybridity in conversion: an examination of “Hapkas” Christology as resistance and innovation in Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain – has been accepted (minor revisions) for Mission Studies. Mission Studies is the Journal of the International Association for Mission Studies and aims to be a forum for the scholarly study of Christian witness and its impact in the world. The article should be published at the end of the year.

It’s the 1st visible written result of my Outside Study Leave Project. It’s also the 3rd journal article I’ve had accepted this year – all focused on Oceania.

The acceptance came with some really lovely reviewer (2) comments – “an excellent article – well framed, written and a pleasure to read. … one of the best articles I have read in a while … Well done!”

Getting this published is a bit of a story of persistence. This particular piece of work began in August 2016 as a conference paper in Korea. It was further helped by the chance to present in March 2017 at a conference in Auckland. I then plugged away all through the rest of 2017 writing it up.  Finally I submitted it to a journal in November 2017. 4 days after I submitted, the editor of the journal emailed saying the journal was closing.

They were no longer taking submissions!

I was gutted. The focus of this article – PNG – is a non-Western nation and it makes it fairly tricky to get something published. The editor agreed it was exactly the type of article the journal existed for. But he had no choice. The University was making funding decisions and cutting the journal was part of their re-alignment of resourcing.

Throughout 2018 I lacked the mental space to do anything. But I’d done so much work already. So outside study leave this year finally gave me the mental space. Here’s what I did.

  • I identified another likely journal. I did this by going back to my two conference presentations and asking – who is talking about these things?
  • I cleared the desk and carefully read Pat Thomson’s internationalising a journal article
  • I settled on her question “what bigger international concern, debate, issue, question or an interest does my paper speak to?”; along with “How might my results inform the wider international conversation in the field?”
  • I read through the recent titles and abstracts of the journal I was targeting, reflecting on the international concern that my paper spoke to
  • I added in a new section to my paper (talking about  conversion, culture and revelation)
  • I then lightly edited the entire article, looking for ways to connect my article with this theme as outlined in the new section.
  • This included a restructure, in which I introduced a local/regional/global frame to help address the ‘How might my results inform the wider international conversation in the field’ question. It also was a way of seeking to keep the particularity (PNG), engage with the region (Oceania) and speak to the international debate
  • I rewrote the conclusion, again with a particular focus on engaging with the new section.
  • This then required a re-worked introduction, followed by the abstract and title (note the use of culture and conversion)
  • Finally, I did the detail work of changing all the references to conform to a different journal article

In the end, there were 1200 new words, over a number of afternoons. Thankfully the new journal accepted longer articles (up to 10,000 words – with the new words I had about 30 spare!)! And I was then intrigued to see the reviewer comment well framed. I think this is a consequence of the work I did in order to internationalise.

2000px-Flag_of_Papua_New_Guinea.svg Which means that PNG – my birth country – will be talked about in an international forum for the scholarly study of Christian witness! (Steve quietly hums the PNG national anthem …)

Anyhow, here is the abstract – This essay analyses Christian witness, applying a post-colonial lens to Drusilla Modjeska’s The Mountain to account for conversion and transformation in Papua New Guinea. A ‘hapkas’ (half-caste) Christology of indigenous agency, communal transformation and hybridity is examined in dialogue with New Testament themes of genealogy, redemption as gift and Jesus as the new Adam. Jesus as ‘good man true’ is placed in critical dialogue with masculine identity tropes in Melanesian anthropology. Jesus as ancestor gift of Canaanite descent is located in relation to scholarship that respects indigenous cultures as Old Testaments and post-colonial theologies of revelation which affirm cultural hybridity and indigenous innovation in conversion across cultures. This ‘hapkas’ Christology demonstrates how a received message of Christian mission is transformed in a crossing of cultures.

The other reason I’m really stoked is that this article was testing the waters. This is evident in one of the comments from Reviewer 1 – I am intrigued by the notion of “hapkas” christology and hope the author has a chance to expand on this analysis in subsequent research. Landing this article was for me part of my ongoing research plan. It was a stepping stone. It was clearing the ground, gaining scholarly approval, in order to take a further step in researching hybridity and genealogy in Christology.

Posted by steve at 09:00 AM

Friday, March 01, 2019

For this Sabbath time

light

For this Sabbath time
A stroll in life’s light
Illuminated in silence
Divine with human

In steps
Of writing
First expressions
Tracing the light in dark of community, institution, structure

A path
Hewn in love
God’s marks of mission
Tihei mauri ora
-Now read again, from bottom to top

Posted by steve at 02:24 PM

Friday, February 22, 2019

Redeeming a Past: An Ancestor Perspective

launch It is a great privilege to be part of the launch, and a contributor, to Listening to the People of the Land: Christianity, Colonisation and the Path to Redemption, edited by Susan Healy.

Susan contacted me in April 2018, asking if I could contribute some words. I had a range of deadlines looming, but I also had been doing some thinking about colonisation in light of the challenges of post-colonial literature. How do we tell stories in which the primary actors are not the colonisers? In the words of a wise kuia, Aunty Millie Te Kawa of Tūwharetoa: “Everyone talks about the famous missionary who worked among my people. But who taught the missionary the language?”

So over a number of months, with great patience from Susan, I wove together some thinking, scattered a range of different pieces I was working on. My chapter is titled: Redeeming a Past: An Ancestor Perspective

Posted by steve at 08:40 AM

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Children of the waters journal article

Children of the waters: whirlpools, waiora, baptism and missio Dei

Keywords: Missio Dei, baptism, indigenous, Māori, early Christian art, environment

Abstract: From space, the Pacific glitters in ocean blue. What might the world’s largest ocean contribute to missio Dei? A spiral methodology is used to trace connections between the baptism of Jesus, early Christian art, recent legal (Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal) research and indigenous knowing, including ocean voyaging, ancestor understandings of whirlpools, Māori water rites and oral history of river beings (taniwha).

The argument is that indigenous Oceanic (Māori) understandings of water, in conversation with baptismal narratives, present missio Dei as an immersion in God. Mission is located not in the activity of the church – and hence mission expansion as part of European colonisation – but in the being and becoming of God. Creation and redemption are interconnected and an environmental ethic is expected. Children of the waters (ngā tamariki o te Moana nui a Kiwa) listen to creation’s voice (taniwha speaking) and act for the life (waiora) of water.

Posted by steve at 05:04 PM

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Decolonising the (theological) curriculum through place- based pedagogies

IMG_7087

After teaching Theological Reflection on Saturday – on place-based methodologies – I spent some time reflecting on the experience. It was shaping up to be a hot afternoon, so in the morning I worked up a new activity, inviting the class to walk the local botanical gardens in order to break up a 3.5 hour lecture slot. It began out of compassion, but as I reflected, there were some interesting learnings happening. A potential reflective-practice journal article abstract began to take shape

Decolonising the (theological) curriculum through place- based pedagogies

A Theology of Place from :redux on Vimeo.

How to teach place-based theologies to those who might feel shallow-rooted? My practice-based research sought to investigate place-based teaching in the context of theological education among those being formed for the vocation of ordained ministry. I sought to decolonise the curriculum, introducing indigenous theologians, who document the way that identity is formed through  generations of relationships connected to place.  Richard Twist (Rescuing the Gospel from the Cowboys: A Native American Expression of the Jesus Way) emphasises the need to do theology in relation to a primal sense of connection to birth place, Denise Champion (Yarta Wandatha) examines the interplay between land and people, while Maori approaches to pepeha develop identity in relation to landmarks like mountains and river. 

The challenge was that the cohort was not indigenous. As migrants, or descendants of migrants, experiences of a sense of relationship to place can be limited.  In addition, the class was experiencing dislocation, gathered from various national locations into a context not familiar to participants.

The space between indigenous knowing and migrant experience was presented as an opportunity. The writing of Alifeti Ngahe (Weaving, Networking and Taking Flight) was instructive, providing vocational examples of how he migrated into new communities and developed place-based theologies.  Students were invited to locate themselves as “other” and in that epistemic rupture (Rosemary Dewerse, Breaking Calabashes) find a posture of investigative curiosity.  The class was sent in groups to examine statues in a local Botanical Park. They were provided with a short history of various monuments and instructed to see if they could do what Alifeti had done, make theological connections with place. 

Each group reported a range of insights. Work was then done as a cohort to shape the insights into prayers of approach for use in the context of vocational ministry. The liturgical movements of thanksgiving, confession and lament provide room to examine a range of important movements in the journey of decolonisation. This enriched the place-based reflection and provided vocational application.  

The argument is that practice-based pedagogies inform the practise of place-based ministries. Outdoor experiences, paying attention to local monuments, naming epistemic rupture and listening to indigenous theologians provide important resources in place-based teaching.    

Posted by steve at 10:33 AM

Sunday, January 06, 2019

star gazing at Epiphany: an indigenous way of knowing

“we observed his star” (Matthew 2:2) And so for the Magi of Matthew’s gospel, following the stars is a way of navigating toward faith. Star gazing, star navigating, star following is an indigenous way of knowing.

Star hangs on ears of night, defining light …
The bottom line

is to know where to go – star points …
So guidance systems attached.”

writes Robert Sullivan in his poem, He karakia timatanga, (Star Waka: Poems by Robert Sullivan, Auckland University Press, page 3)

So the Magi are best understood through the wisdom of indigenous journeys. The Magi are like the ancient navigators who guided canoes across the Pacific. They are drawing on ancient wisdom, shared from generation to generation, the lore of ocean currents, star patterns, migration of birds. This is a wholistic way of knowing, attending as fully present to earth and creation.

Posted by steve at 04:49 PM

Friday, December 07, 2018

Congratulations to inaugural Judith Binney Trust recipients

The Judith Binney Trust has announced the recipients of the 2019 Judith Binney Fellowships and Writing Awards. They are Dr. Nēpia Mahuika (Ngāti Porou), Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Waikato; freelance writer Ryan Bodman; journalist and commentator Morgan Godfery (Ngāti Awa, Samoa); and independent historian Dr. Melissa Matutina Williams (Te Rarawa, Ngāti Maru). In making the announcements, the trustees noted they were “impressed with the quality and quantity of applications for funding in our inaugural year.”

This is worth noting because I was an applicant :)

I put in an application titled The Kingmaker’s Bible, which sought to understanding Maori approaches to religion by examining the Bible-reading strategies of the first kingmaker, Wiremu Tāmihana Tarapīpi Te Waharoa. My project sought to extend my recent research and affirm the creativity of indigenous engagement with a book (the Bible) often associated with colonisation and break new ground by locating Maori Bible-reading strategies in relationship to international scholarship, particularly that of Gerald West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon and James Scott, Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts. My proposal set out to make an outstanding Maori leader accessible through high-school curricula, a theology textbook and social media.

It was not to be. Not in relation to this particular pathway anyway (although I’m open to offers and imaginative suggestions). But the application process was excellent, particularly the discipline of making a funding application within the confines of 1,000 words. And my referees were very encouraging: one wrote that mine was “a superb proposal for research and a profound project.” And I’m delighted at the calibre of those who were successful recipients of the 2019 Judith Binney Fellowships and Writing Awards. I congratulate each of them and wish them all the best as they contribute to scholarly historical research and writing in this country. Finally, kudos to Judith Binney and the trustees for innovating in this way.

Posted by steve at 05:37 PM

Friday, November 23, 2018

Doing theology on the land of another

I took this picture last year while I was on retreat. I was struck by the words on the sign: access courtesy of land owners. I am welcomed as guest.

doingtheology

It is a reminder that as guest, I do theology on the land of another. As an act of self-location, it shapes the way I read Scripture. What does it mean for me to hear the Bible as 2nd peoples, to do theology on the land of another? The Revised Preamble of the Uniting Church of Australia affirms that the “First Peoples had already encountered the Creator God … the Spirit was already in the land revealing God to the people through law, custom and ceremony.” The Revised Preamble affirms that God was already walking country, revealing Godself before I arrived.

So last week I was working with Exodus 3. It is part of a ongoing research project, as I explore the symbol of the burning bush for church identity. Last week, I began to imagine Moses encountering God as 2nd peoples, on the land of another. The actual text notes that he led his flock “beyond the wilderness” (v 3). Angela Song, in her A Postcolonial Woman’s Encounter with Moses and Miriam (Postcolonialism and Religions), describes Moses as “the nowhere boy who became a nowhere man.” (192). Moses is raised in a culture and class not his own: a nowhere boy. Becoming an adult, Moses calls his first born son, Gershon. It means stranger, alien in foreign land.

And so in Exodus 3, “beyond the wilderness”, this nowhere man encounters God. On the land of another, Moses begins to contemplate a God of care and compassion. Moses initial response, his first articulation of a theology, includes actions. He takes off his shoes.

It is, according to Jewish scholar, Nahum Sarna, The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus a way of showing respect and humility. On the land in which he is a stranger, feeling alien, Moses doesn’t start with ownership and possession and domination. His theology begins with respect and humility, paying attention to the God already there.

Nahum Sarna The JPS Torah Commentary: Exodus also notes the liturgical echoes, that the Jewish rabbi takes off their shoes before pronouncing the benediction (15). In response to encounter, as one prepares to leave, one shows respect and humility for land and already present faith.

Take off your shoes is the first theological act of those who locate as 2nd peoples.

Posted by steve at 12:12 PM

Friday, October 26, 2018

Centre for the Book Symposium on Translation and Transculturation

I did some work on this today –

Translation and Transculturation in indigenous resistance: the use of Christian Scripture in the speeches of Wiremu Tamihana.

It is an academic paper I will be presenting at the Centre for the Book Symposium on Translation and Transculturation, November 1-2, 2018.

centre book symposium

This was the abstract I submitted back in early September:

A feature of Aotearoa’s history is the role of a book, the Bible, translated, to resource indigenous resistance. This is evident in the life of Wiremu Tamehana Tarapipipi Te Waharoa, tino rangatira no Ngati Hauaa I hangaia e ia te Kingitanga, who was in 1859 the first Kingmaker. In a korero opposing Governor Grey in 1861 (GBPP, 1862, 73), Tamehana deployed Deuteronomy 17:15 and Ephesians 2:13 to challenge the aggressive actions of the Crown toward Maori in the Waikato.

Translation involves the interplay between two forces: domestic and foreign (Venuti, The Scandals of Translation: Towards an Ethics of Difference, 1998). Foreign texts are domesticated in the hope of making them intelligible to specific, in this case indigenous, cultures. Ironically, once domesticated, these triumphs of translated transcultural success can generate significant cultural change (Handman, Critical Christianity, 2015). Translation theory thus provides helpful frames: individual in examining Tamehana’s use of Scripture; cultural in examining how translation shaped Maori culture. This requires paying attention to the public transcript (the translation) and the often hidden vernacular transculturation (West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon, 2016).

Translation theory provides a way to honour Tamehana’s use of a translated text, including his reversal of Venuti’s categories of foreign and domestic. When Tamehana deploys Ephesians, a once foreign translation, now domesticated into te reo, is being invoked in ways that position the Crown as foreign. When Tamehana draws on Deuteronomy, he is positioning the Bible as a book that belongs to no one domesticating culture, but to an atua beyond all cultures. This “illumination from above” (Marsden, The Woven Universe, 2003) points toward a divinised transculturality.

The result is that a translated Sola Scriptura serves as a wero of challenge toward the behaviours of the culture that introduced the book. Sealer and sailor, soldier and settler are called to act ethically.

This paper is a continuation of research, writing and speaking I did last year (1 video, 4 publications, 2 conference papers and 3 talks) on the Bible reading strategies of Wiremu Tamehana. In this paper, I am taking up in particular the work of Gerald West, The Stolen Bible: From Tool of Imperialism to African Icon and looking at James Scott’s (Domination and the Arts of Resistance: Hidden Transcripts) notion of hidden transcripts as they apply in indigenous resistance.

I’m still not sure if the paper will hang together as a coherent whole come next Friday. But I’m more optimistic at the end of today than I was at the start. Which makes it a good day!

Posted by steve at 08:06 PM