Telling Tales Out of School: Sia Figiel and Indigenous Knowledge in Pacific Islands Literature

Judith Raiskin

This chapter examines the atavistic elements of colonial mythmaking and the intransigence of the fantasies continuing to influence both the imaginations of Americans and Europeans and the lives of Pacific Islanders in Sia Figiel’s novel, where we once belonged (1996). The novel focuses not on the visitors to Samoa and their difficulty of belonging, but on the social discomforts of Samoans themselves, who live between traditional and modern performances of identity and community. The character Siniva voices the fury of the intellectual who, educated by the colonial machine, sees beyond the advantages offered her as an administrator of that machine (as a teacher, bureaucrat, professional) and becomes instead a critic of colonialism on behalf of her people, who reject the criticism as madness.

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Submitted by Toksave
March 23, 2021
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