How Does the Next Generation of Pacific Diaspora From Blended Backgrounds Construct and Maintain Their Identities Through the Spaces They Inhabit?

Simati-Kumar, Benita
Ka‘ai- Mahuta, Rachael
Ka'ai, Tania
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

How does the next generation of Pacific diaspora from ‘blended backgrounds’ construct and maintain their identities through the spaces they inhabit? The aim of this research is to highlight the importance of space in relation to identity for Pacific diasporic communities in Auckland, specifically looking at the identities of blended backgrounds of ethnicity, culture and race. It examines possible ways of thinking about the Pacific concept of vā (between-ness, non-empty and relational space; see Wendt, 1996) to create possibilities of space. Aspects that will be further pursued in the thesis, within the broad concept of vā, are: Lala-Vā; stirring the vā (Refiti, 2008b), qualities of relational space (Wendt, 1996), location and diaspora, and Pacific traditions, knowledges and cultures. Studio methods will utilise various approaches to photographic documentation, experimental approaches, and collaborative practices from the participant interviews. The collaborative practice is informed by the research methods, which include talanoa (oral communication), thus allowing me to draw on different knowledge systems and concepts, and design and make reference to Pacific traditions, knowledges, and cultures. Further to this investigation, I will design an intervention for the community in order to display and create spaces of blended identity and multiculturalism. The relational space created in this proposed project is aimed at all cultures, religions and members in the community; it will be a space for those who may feel disconnected from their own Pacific identity in the diaspora. In this project, I will align myself with standpoint epistemologies, which emphasise the diversity and situatedness of knowledges. Indeed, Gegeo & Watson-Gegeo (2001) hold that any knowing is always a knowing from a certain perspective, and that this perspective needs to be made explicit. The term ‘blended backgrounds’ I refer to in my research is significant, because it will be an increasingly common background to the next generation of Pacific diasporic youth. In the past, diaspora meant leaving the homeland forever; it has gone from being associated specifically with the Jewish community to being a term used to describe dispersed communities within a period of migration. Diaspora is an interesting concept because of the evolution of identity for Pacific peoples in the Aotearoa/New Zealand context, especially against the backdrop of ongoing links to the ‘homeland’, which is often reflected in one’s ‘space’. The growth of these Pacific communities in New Zealand over coming decades means that the politics of place and identity will become more significant, and will add to the complexity of culturally diverse societies in a globalised world. This thesis will also focus on deconstructing the between-ness of space at the intersection of design, blended identity and diaspora.

, Diaspora , Identity , Archive
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