Accepted Paper:

Reconnection: the Tahitian case  


Małgorzata Owczarska

Paper short abstract:

The paper will present a Tahitian concept of "nati” – a knot of multidimensional relations bounding humans, non-humans, and space-time. By abandoning western nature/culture division, the island’s activists reconnect to their identity ("iho tumu") and face the global ecological destabilization.

Paper long abstract:

Drawing form the Tahitian intellectual legacy (D.Ra'apoto, H.Hiro), and indigenous activism that is both cultural and environmental, I will present the notion of "nati" (tah. knot) a knot of multidimensional relations. Over 200 years of colonialism culminating in the nuclear trials brought rapid socio-economical changes to the French Polynesia. This last event introduced subsidized, cash economy and consumptionism. It resulted in a postcolonial identity crisis. Simultaneously, current destabilization of climate strongly influences the fragile ecosystems of the Pacific islands. Indigenous activists join efforts to address these problems, which are actually one phenomenon. The islanders define it as disconnection from the land, the sea, and the ways of ancestors. Therefore not only do they care for their surroundings, or reach out for green technologies, but also they reconnect to the ancestors, the pre-colonial ontologies, and reclaim the modes of inhabiting the island and the sea. This has been given strong conceptual, symbolical and ethical frames like: "aroha" (mutual caring); "fa'afaite" (reconciliation); "nati ra'a" (bounding of people [living and not], time, spaces, non-humans, stability and mobility). To illustrate it I will mention the examples of modern use of traditional navigation and pre-Christian temple "marae". This paper aims to show conceptualization of human and non-human relations emerging from the field work. It gives methodological tool to describe the story of the people who live in the postcolonial and global reality, and try to overcome the crises enrooted in it. Can the Polynesian case be an inspiration for the Rest?

Panel P100
Revisiting the culture/nature divide under the conditions of global forces