the Black Pacific ?
Although the term points to a geographic location that runs through and around what the North Americans call the "Pacific Rim," the term "Black Pacific" points to the various socio-political and cultural issues of power and history in that location and through its diasporic populations around the world. My use of the term points to miltiarism and colonialism's impact and its postcolonial effects.
It is a term that developed in relation to two ideas:
1) An inclusion of histories, peoples and communities that have been heretofore invisible in studying Blackness and African-ness, associated with the prioritizing of a "Black Atlantic" slave-trade in world historiography.
It is marked by European, Australian, and United Statian incursions, invasions, wars, and occupations, along with Japanese imperialism and colonization, and the precursors to all of this in the religious and ethnic strife within these regions before these nations had been formed. These make the identities, cultures, resistances and forms of nation-making run through with militarism, imperialism, racism, gender norms, Orientalism, and globalization--which can only be called a neo-colonization, setting up particular hierarchies.
It must be made clear that there was a slave trade in the Pacific as well, and not all of it was "Asian" or "African" and included black bodies not related to "Africa," but whose bodies were considered "the same" and treated as such.
2) The question taken up by Gerald Horne, who has been kind enough to write the introduction to this book, who asked in his book on the "White Pacific" and the slave-trade in the Pacific-- What of the Black Pacific?
Since the histories are complex and far-reaching, those of us writing on the various issues in this topic, must particularize.
My own take is primarily through the Amerasian peoples and the effects of contact with indigenous minorities and majority nations that make hierarchies of color, gender, sexuality, race, and modes and values of life--and what is given priority.
Below is a list of the primary works I suggest.
As mentioned earlier, any study of an idea as far-reaching as a "Black Pacific," would need reflections on how a student and/or activist wants to approach it from their particular axis.
My own are focused on social justice with a post-colonial approach, through my histories as an Amerasian of Japan. This would entail an interest in patterns and techniques of oppression, how a past lives in the present, and the various ways in which European and American incursions and occupations affect the lives of the local people in and around the Pacific Ocean, where local imperialisms, colonization and domination strategies meet the larger forces. Therefore, militarism, intimately tied with sexism and heterosexism, nationalism and racism, class and caste-ism, rural and urban prejudices, liberalism and globalization, and other such forms of social force, religio-cultural interplay and hierarchies, play out in domestic and communal lives, and to write in such a way for revealing these processes in intimate spheres.
For social thought, reading various postcolonial authors and their perspectives, applying them to any topic in relation to social-cultural history, social issues, and the deconstruction of assumptions such as utopias, difference, identity, and power-relations, would be useful. Postcolonial authors may be found in cultural and ethnic studies, history, literature, economics, etc.
For beginners in this way of thinking, it might be useful to begin with:
1) Postcolonial Studies: The Key Concepts -- edited by Ashcroft; Griffiths; Tiffin
2) The Routledge Critical Dictionary of Postmodern Thought
3) A Dictionary of Cultural and Critical Theory -- edited by Payne & Barbera
Authors such as Albert Memmi, Chandra Mohanty, Michel Foucault, Hannah Arendt, Ann Laura Stoler, Franz Fanon, Judith Butler, Benedict Anderson, Antonio Gramsci, Paul Gilroy, Patrick Brailinger, Walter Benjamin, James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, Clifford and Marcus, and Arjun Appadurai --are just a beginning example of thinkers that need to be read in order to approach any study of historical/cultural works, to begin creating new worlds (instead of new versions of the same way of thinking and perceiving).
Below is a list of what I think would be the best books to BEGIN a study of the Black Pacific.
The following list is meant to be a broad jumping-off point and are mostly academic works, with some "fiction" and memoirs. On my BLOG on the Black Pacific Curriculum page - there is a larger list of works.
This list is meant to be read *In Order of Mention" and will be ocassionally updated.
1) Emma Christopher and Cassandra Pybus -
Many Middle Passages: Forced Migration and the Making of the Modern World
2) Gerald Horne -
The White Pacific: US Imperialism and Slavery in the South Seas After the Civil War
3) Robert Kirk -
Paradise Past: The Transformation of the Pacific, 1520 - 1910
4) Daniel Broudy, Peter Simpson, and Makoto Arakaki (editors) -
Under Occupation: Resistance and Struggle in a Militarised Asia-Pacific
5) Julian Aguon -
What We Bury at Night: Disposable Humanity
6) Nicholas Clements -
The Black War: Fear, Sex, and Resistance in Tasmania
7) Stuart Creighton Miller -
Benevolent Assimilation: The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903
8) Steven DeBonis -
Children of the Enemy: Oral Histories of Vietnamese Amerasians and Their Mothers
9) Michael Cullen Green -
Black Yanks in the Pacific: Race in the Making of the American Military Empire
After World War II
10) Ji-Yeon Yuh -
Beyond the Shadow of Camptown: Korean Military Brides in America
11) Sturdevant and Stoltzfus -
Let the Good Times Roll: Prostitution and the U.S. Military in Asia
12) Heinz Insu-Fenkl -
Memories of My Ghost Brother (Memoir of a Black-Korean Amerasian boy)
13) Bernard Lucious -
In the Black Pacific: Testimonies of Afro-Vietnamese Amerasian Displacements -
(Chapter in: Displacements and Diasporas: Asians in the Americas)
14) West, Levine, and Hitz (editors) -
America's Wars in Asia: A Cultural Approach to History and Memory
15) Emmanuelle Saada -
Empire's Children: Race, Filiation, and Citizenship in the French Colonies
16) Christina Firpo -
The Uprooted: Race, Children, and Imperialism in French Indochina, 1890-1980
17) Tobias Rettig and Karl Hack (editors) -
Colonial Armies in Southeast Asia
18) Lisa Lowe -
The Intimacies of Four Continents
19) Etsuko Taketani -
The Black Pacific Narrative: Geographic Imaginings of Race and Empire
Between the World Wars
20) Judith Bennett and Angela Wanhalla (editors) -
Mothers' Darlings of the South Pacific: The Children of Indigenous Women and
U.S. Servicemen, World War II
21) Wes Keat, Daily Alta California, Volume 24, November 6, 1872 -
The South Pacific Slave Trade
22) Holly Barker -
Bravo for the Marshallese: Regaining Control in a Post-Nuclear, Post-Colonial World
23) Robbie Shilliam -
The Black Pacific: Anti-Colonial Struggles and Oceanic Connection
PLEASE CONTACT ME for any questions, or requests
for consulting, presentations, etc.