POWER IN OCEANIA is about power, strength, or their opposites, about mana and other Oceanic concepts that refer to empowerment, usefulness or similar conditions – quite simply, about the great diversity of issues of power, past-pre-sent-future-vernacular-local-national-global-and so forth, in the great region of Oceania, which some of us come from, and which all of us have as an integral part of our lives. We, the Pacific Alternatives family, twenty-seven of us, now gather in March 2012 at the Solstrand Hotel (Sol = sun; Strand = beach) by a fjord arm of the North Sea, in order to be with, speak to, and among, ourselves for the better part of a week, as the Norwegian spring may or may not start to take hold.
We shall talk about forms of power in the widest possible sense, as they grow at and from that interface between cultural heritage and political innovation that our project pays attention to, but also as they transcend that interface. This is not an area of little conflict and contestation. I invite you all to explore power issues in any possible direction and also to take this opportunity to sum up what you feel are some of your most significant observations and arguments developed during the life of “Pacific Alternatives”. Meanwhile, we shall also sustain our own lives from the best food that Norway has to offer from sea and land. Like the global osprey (my own favourite Norwegian bird, and a power-giving spirit animal in the Marovo Lagoon) who lives, nests and feeds on fish in the warm waters of Oceania and the colder waters of Norway (and by the rest of the world’s seas except the Antarctic Ocean), we are coming together in Bergen from so many distant islands to greet, meet, feed and educate each other in companionship that includes but ranges far beyond the usual relationships of scholarly communities. As Epeli Hau’ofa reminded us, it is the ocean that connects us – it is also the ocean that provides the setting for our knowledges of Oceania.
Welcome to Norway’s West Country, my friends. For you who travel from Oceania, thank you for coming all this way.
Pacific Alternatives project director
Conference Programme (2MB)