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Accepted Paper:

Photographs of Pacific flowers: dangerous, disruptive or decolonial?  

Author:

Yvonne Underhill-Sem (University of Auckland)

Paper short abstract:

Photographs of flowers from the author's personal Cook Island family collection are examined alongside those from photographic archives in a British museum as a contribution to understanding the value of archives and museums in decolonial Pacific futures.

Paper long abstract:

Flowers have been an intimate part of meaning-making in everyday life in many Pacific places. Over time their diverse colours, shapes, scents and their feel have generated different embodied responses. Their perishable nature however, means they lend themselves to being captured in visual format. As part of a larger project informed by a decolonial feminist cultural economy of flowers in the Pacific, I work with photographs of flowers, beginning in the early twentieth century, from personal records of my Cook Island family and from the photographic archives in a British museum. In this paper I begin with the simple question of how these different photographs invite different ways of understanding how flowers contribute to practices and performances that simultaneously ground, but also destabilise meaning-making in the Pacific. This contributes to understanding the value of archives and museums in decolonial Pacific futures.

Panel AM03a
Objects, archives and their stories: unsettling colonial certainties