Pacific Art as Activism: Sovereignty over image, narrative & space

On 29th March 2017, the Institute for Human Security and Social Change hosted a number of international speakers as part of a seminar on Pacific Art as Activism. This seminar focussed on the Pacific’s rich history of cultural expression, and artistic practices. In recent years, these creative practices have frequently been conceptualised as ‘art as activism’ or ‘art for social change’ and Pacific artists, writers, musicians and performers have become a prominent feature in the region’s international development landscape. This seminar comprised a critical exploration of this topic through a diversity of artistic practices, highlighting some of the contestation between development processes, and activist practices.

We were delighted to hear from the following speakers:
* Jackie Kauli and Verena Thomas from Queensland University of Technology, and the Centre for Social and Creative Media at the University of Goroka, PNG. Jackie and Verena shared some insights into art, activism and representation in Papua New Guinea, drawing on their recent experiences as part of a digital storytelling project.
* Cresentia Frances Koya Vaka’uta from the University of the South Pacific, Fiji. Frances spoke about the power of resistance through art and agency in the broader Pacific region.
* Dan Bendrups from La Trobe University. Dan shared some of his research into revival of heritage through performance on Rapa Nui (Easter Island).

An audio recording of the event is available on Soundcloud.

The event was chaired by Institute Research Fellow Tait Brimacombe, and was attended by over 40 representatives form La Trobe University and the wider community.

The event was the inaugural seminar of La Trobe's recently launched Pacific Research Community (PaRC) which seeks to bring together academics and students from across various disciplines to share their Pacific knowledge, experience and networks. The seminar was the first in a series of four seminars to be held over the course of 2017 and was made possible with funding from the Institute for Human Security and Social Change.

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