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Survivance, Patricia Grace, Paula Morris, and Kelly Ana Morey

January 10, 2012

In her PhD thesis (freely available online), Ann Pistacchi “asserts that [Patricia] Grace, [Paula] Morris and [Kelly Ana] Morey are producing acts of indigenous literary cultural survivance that ‘imagine the world healthy,’ something author and critic Maxine Hong Kingston demands that contemporary writers of critical fictions must do if they are going to convince the book-buying populace ‘not to worship tragedy as the highest art anymore’ ….. Grace, Morris, and Morey depict the creative, generative, and ‘healthy’ aspects of Maori cultural survivance as taking place in both the real and imagined communities which they live in and write about. Their texts offer hope for the ongoing survival – and survivance – of Maori culture in the twenty-first century.” (ii)

The term ‘survivance’, she explains, is “a term used by University of New Mexico Professor Gerald Vizenor and Ohio State University Professor Chadwick Allen to refer to the ways in which indigenous authors use their texts as ‘a means of cultural survival that comes with denying authoritative representations of [indigenous peoples] in addition to developing an adaptable, dynamic identity that can mediate between conflicting cultures’.” (ii) “I argue,” she writes, “that acts of Maori cultural survivance are manifested in the works of these three authors both internally, in terms of the actions of characters in their fictional narratives, and externally, by the authors themselves who fight for survivance in a literary publishing world that is often slow to recognize and valued works of fiction that challenge traditional (Western) modes of novel form and style.” (ii)

“According to Native American writer and critic Gerald Vizenor, survivance ‘in the sense of native survivance, is more than survival, more than endurance or mere response‘ (Fugitive Poses 15). Survivance itself is an action – ‘an active repudiation of dominance, tragedy, and victimry,’ and therefore ‘the stories of survivance are an active presence’ (Fugitive Poses 15) within the literary canons they inhabit.” (7)

Ref: (emphases in bold green, mine) Ann Katherine Pistacchi (2009) Spiralling Subversions: The Politics of Maori Cultural Survivance in the Recent Critical Fictions of Patricia Grace, Paula Morris, and Kelly Ana Morey. PhD thesis, University of Auckland: Auckland.

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