REPRESENTATIONS OF PACIFIC IDENTITY AT THE 2012 FESTIVAL OF PACIFIC ARTS
Witzleben, J. Lawrence
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Since 1972, the countries of the Pacific have come together every four years to express their culture at the Festival of Pacific Arts. In 2012, I traveled to Honiara, Solomon Islands, for the eleventh iteration of this two-week festival. This thesis focuses on the traditional performances by twenty countries at the festival, and explores the presentational choices made by the Polynesian, Melanesian, Micronesian, and Australian cultures represented at the festival. The analysis of performances, recordings, and interviews, utilizing Appadurai's -scapes, reveals the economics, politics, and ideas of these Pacific Islanders in their negotiation of the balance between tradition and modernity. The Festival presents a Bakhtinian carnival allowing participants to demonstrate or resist clichés and conform to or break with conventions, values and established truths. The festival becomes a unique spectacle of resistance, experimentation, and discovery, a place for Pacific Islanders to negotiate their identity in the twenty-first century.