Narrating Indigenous Modernities

Transcultural Dimensions in Contemporary Māori Literature


The Māori of New Zealand, a nation that quietly prides itself on its pioneering egalitarianism, have had to assert their indigenous rights against the demographic, institutional, and cultural dominance of Pākehā and other immigrant minorities – European, Asian, and Polynesian – in a postcolonial society characterized by neocolonial structures of barely acknowledged inequality. While Māori writing reverberates with this struggle, literary identity discourse goes beyond any fallacious dualism of white/brown, colonizer/colonized, or modern/traditional. In a rapidly altering context of globality, such essentialism fails to account for the diverse expressions of Māori identities negotiated across multiple categories of culture, ethnicity, class, and gender.
Narrating Indigenous Modernities recognizes the need to place Māori literature within a broader framework that explores the complex relationship between indigenous culture, globalization, and modernity. This study introduces a transcultural methodology for the analysis of contemporary Māori fiction, where articulations of indigeneity acknowledge cross-cultural blending and the transgression of cultural boundaries.
Thus, Narrating Indigenous Modernities charts the proposition that Māori writing has acquired a fresh, transcultural quality, giving voice to both new and recuperated forms of indigeneity, tribal community, and Māoritanga (Maoridom) that generate modern indigeneities which defy any essentialist homogenization of cultural difference. Māori literature becomes, at the same time, both witness to globalized processes of radical modernity and medium for the negotiation and articulation of such structural transformations in Māoritanga.

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Michaela Moura–Koçoğlu teaches women’s studies and English literatures at Florida International University in Miami. She gained her PhD degree in New English Literatures and Cultures at Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. Among her primary research interests are Indigenous literatures, Indigenous women’s studies, literature from Oceania, postcolonial studies, and transculturality as a critical methodology.
“This study offers a valuable different perspective for analyzing Maori fiction, which challenges the conventional postcolonial approach and suggests instead a transcultural reading – an interpretative strategy that uncovers previously ignored aspects of Maori fiction and does justice to its complexity.” – Valentina Napoli, University of Auckland
Introduction: Reframing Māori Storytelling
“Things are not exactly black or white in Aotearoa”: The Many Facets of Kiwi Identity
Fragmentation Reconsidered: Transcultural Identities in the Making
Narratives of (Be)Longing: Māori Literary Voices Advancing
Narratives of (Un)Belonging: Unmasking Cleavage, Cleaving to Identities
Transcultural Readings: Recombining Repertoires
Navigating Transcultural Currents: Stories of Indigenous Modernities
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