"Two ears, one mouth, don't talk too much."
May 20, 2019 7:02 PM   Subscribe

Political geographer Anja Kanngieser discusses the movements for climate and environmental justice in the Pacific and building atmosphere through sound recordings. "Many of the [Pacific Islands] activists I spoke with said, "We are doing this not only for us, but for you, because after we go, you go too"."

Kanngieser discusses their motivations in creating work like In The Eye of The Storm, a sound project of reflections by Fijian poets, artists and scientists on the aftermath of Cyclone Winston, a Category 5 storm that devastated Fiji in 2016. A white researcher working within a legacy of white researchers in the Pacific "coming, oftentimes uninvited and with no respect for Indigenous research protocols, into Indigenous spaces", Kanngieser describes their political approach in the words of i-Kiribati poet and educator Teweiariki Teaero: "Two ears, one mouth, don't talk too much." More sound work is available on Kanngieser's website.

Some of the organisations referenced in the interview:
Kiribati Climate Action Network
Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality
Pacific Action Network on Globalisation

Further listening/reading from people mentioned in the interview:
Associate Professor Katerina Teaiwa interviewed on phosphate mining on Banaba Island and decolonising modern anthropology at the Australian National University (includes transcript): "There are lots of ideas about scale and about significance of scale when it comes to thinking about what matters in this world, you know, like global forces impact: the big influence the little. In the case of something like phosphate in the islands of Nauru and Banaba, it’s the little impacting the big."

Poet and scholar Dr Craig Santos Perez's collection of spoken word poetry Crosscurrent explores Chamorro, Micronesian, and Pacific Islander cultures, histories, politics, ecologies, and migrations. (Or text of his poem, "This Changes Everything" (Earth Day Poem): "I, too, have always kind of hated films about climate change./ Not because they feature cliche polar bears, but because they’re all made by white people./In the climate movement, indigenous peoples are the new polar bears.")

Noelene Nabulivou of Diverse Voices and Action (DIVA) for Equality speaking on "When and how we move: South feminist reflections on Pacific displacement, mobility and migration" (YT), including gentrification in Fiji's capital city, Suva, and how geopolitical funding decisions and frameworks are shaping political identities and climate migration in the Pacific. "How do you move when you're dealing with that level of economic oppression? Is it really realistic to ask people to come up with adaptive strategies [to climate change] when you're dealing with transnational [mining] corporations? They're there for profit!"

A conversation with i-Kiribati poet Teweiariki Teaero (text only). "... the original training in writing I had was, “Write in English! Write in English!”... Then I started realizing that there are just some things that you cannot write in English. The poem [“Katoka Bau/Garlanding”] that I normally use for opening my books... when I looked at it in English, although it captures the essence of it, it really was a lackluster version in comparison with [the Kiribati version], because I was using images that were meaningful in that language like “go to the eastern side.” I think some people asked in the last presentation, “What is the significance of the east?” You say that in Kiribati, to the Kiribati people, and automatically they know. You do it in English, “the eastern side,” and it is just a point of the compass. It doesn’t have the connotations that were meant to go with it."
posted by trotzdem_kunst (1 comment total) 26 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for this post! Kanngieser's work really closely connects to one of my own research projects, but I didn't know about it (embarrassingly, especially since she is only about an hour away from me). But we have a mutual friend, I think, so I'm definitely going to get in touch with her.
posted by lollusc at 8:03 PM on May 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

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