VANUA IN THE ANTHROPOCENE: RELATIONALITY AND SEA LEVEL RISE IN FIJI MAEBH LONG “We don’t have the land We are the land We don’t have the ocean We are the ocean We don’t have relationship We are relationship… Rooted Connected Fixed yet ﬂ uid” —Vaai (2017) “The sea,” Hester Blum reminds us, “is not a metaphor,” and certainly, the importance of the literal, particularly in this time of anthropogenic climate change, cannot be overestimated (2010, 670). There is nothing tropological about the waves breaching seawalls in Paciﬁ c islands, ﬂ ooding villages, saturating arable land, and engulﬁ ng homes. The rising water temperatures, bleached coral, declining ﬁ sh stocks, and destructive cyclones are not allegorical. There is nothing abstract about these effects, and yet, they should not cause us to forget that the ocean has also long been, as Epeli Hau‘ofa puts it, the Paciﬁ c’s “most powerful metaphor” (2008, 58). Discourses involving the waters of the Paciﬁ c have been deeply empowering, as they have facilitated a shift from an imposed rhetoric of vulnerability, lack, and smallness, to grandeur, bounty, exploration, and prowess. For many decades now Oceanian writers have changed the trope from the vastness of an
symploke – University of Nebraska Press
Published: Nov 28, 2018
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