Re-mapping the Other:
Cultural Translation in Asian/Pacific
and Caribbean American Writing
by
Tricia Lin

[May 30, 2002]
 

Beginning with a quote by Michel Foucault, Prof. Tricia Lin explained how transnation and translation were used as cultural survival strategies. The audience asked questions that explored the issue of post-colonial island literature and its impact.

"We are in the epoch of simultaneity: we are in the epoch of juxtaposition, the epoch of the near and far, of the side-by-side, of the dispersed."

--Michel Foucault

 

"Culture as a strategy of survival is both transnational and translational."

--Homi Bhabha

 

"In woman, personal history blends together with the history of all women, as well as national and world history.

--Helene Cixous

1Michel Foucault, "Of Other Spaces" ("Des Espaces autres"), trans. Jay Miskowiec, Diacritics Spring 1986: 22.

2 Homi Bhabha, "Post Colonial Criticism," Redrawing the Boundaries: the Transformation of English and American Literary Studies, eds. Stephen Greenblatt and Giles Gunn (New York:MLA, 1992), 438.

3 Helene Cixous, "Le rire de la medua," Signs (Summer 1976); anthologized in New French Feminisms (245-64), 252-53.

Vatu Invocation

Heavenly Father
omnipresent
in London
Paris
and Canberra.

Look down

with mercy

upon us
your naive

and gullible servants
doomed
to the colonial legacy of

watching
passively from the periphery
our prime resources
raped

for the gratification of
corporate greed
and

individual

pleasure seekers.
 

Give us

this day

divine guidance

in our choice

of tourists

technical advisors

investors

and entrepreneurs.

 

We pray

that those expatriates

will provide

the atmosphere

in which

our aspirations

can

flourish

but not sway us

by their influence

nor ram their policies

down our throats

as they have done.

 

Grant that we may receive

HIGH CLASS tourists

who will appreciate

our cultural diversity

our primitive grotesque artifacts

and revel in

the unadulterated beauty

of our virgin bushes

and natural environment.

 

Lead

our young men and women

not

into the temptation

of prostituting

their bodies

for the tourist market

particularly

in the Hotel Industry

as has inevitably

happened

in more developed countries.

 

Almighty father

endow us with the

strength and tenacity
to uphold

the spirit

and the letter
of our Constitution
so the land and economic

experts
do not water it down.

We beseech you
dear God
to bestow
upon us

the wisdom
to discern
fact from fiction
gift from bribe
knowledgeability
from verbal diarrhea !

This
we ask you
heavenly father
in the name of Burns Philp
Air Vanutau
and the Tourist Authority.

- Grace Mira Molisa, Vanuatu


The audience asked questions that explored the issue
of post-colonial island literature and its impact.

Colonization

I.

Our own people

say, "Hawaiian

at heart." Makes

me sick to hear

how easily

genealogy flows

away. Two thousand

years of wise 

creation bestowed

for a smile

on resident non

natives.

"Form of survival,"

this thoughtless inclusion.

Taking in

foreigners and friends.

Dismissing history

with a servant’s

grin.

II.

Hawaiian at heart:

nothing said

about loss

violence, death

by hundreds of thousands.

Hawaiian at heart:

a whole people

accustomed

to prostitution

selling identity

for nickels

and dimes

in the whorehouses

of tourism.

III.

Hawaiian at heart:

why no "Japanese

at heart?"

How about

"haole at heart?"

Ruling classes

living off

natives

first

land

then

women

now

hearts

cut out

by our own

familiar hand.

Note: In contemporary Hawaii, the phrase "Hawaiian at heart" is used by Hawaiians and non-Hawaiians alike to identify no-Hawaiians thought to believe and practice Hawaiian cultural values like aloha ‘aina—love of the land—and aloha—a familial love and caring.

This phrase has been used by the mammoth tourist industry to lure visitors to Hawaii and to congratulate those who return. The two groups who control Hawaii’s land and politics—the Japanese and the haole (white)—consciously use "Hawaiian at heart" to describe their actions in the hopes of conveying some relationship to the land. In reality, the phrase is a cultural theft.

 

 

 


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