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Analysing Maori literature – other tools

June 8, 2012

Me he korokoro komako = ’With the throat of a bellbird’ : a Maori aesthetic in Maori writing in English


The primary aim of this thesis Me he korokoro kōmako [‘With the throat of a bellbird’] is to demonstrate the existence of a distinctive Māori aesthetic in Māori literature written in English. Its introductory section, of three chapters, investigates the ways in which mainstream critical discourse in various ways appropriates Māori literature to its own Western-derived models of meaning and values, and proposes instead a definition of a Māori aesthetic grounded in the principle of whakapapa, whose whole cultural components for Māori literature include distinctive textual functions for myth, orality, acts of naming, other aspects of language, and symbolism. The concept of whakapapa also provides the organizing principle and methodology of the central chapters of the thesis, which are divided into two Parts – each of six chapters. These are framed by a Prologue and Epilogue, whose subject is the profound cultural symbolism of the waka in the work of a founding figure for Māori writing in English, Jacqueline Sturm, and in Star Waka, by a major later writer in English, Robert Sullivan. Part One devotes three chapters each to the adult fiction of one female writer, Patricia Grace (Potiki and Baby No-Eyes), and one male writer, Witi Ihimaera (The Matriarch). Part Two, following the principle of whakapapa, devotes six chapters to Māori literature for children. Its primary text is the major anthology of such writing – Te Ara O Te Hau: The Path of the Wind, Volume 4 of Te Ao Mārama, edited by Witi Ihimaera, with Haare Williams, Irihapeti Ramsden and D.S. Long. It grounds its reading of the volume’s many texts (literary and visual, in Māori and in English) in the many distinctive cultural behaviours and meanings attached to the figure of Māui. Each of the authors and texts has been chosen in order to study and exemplify a particular aspect of the Māori aesthetic defined in the Introduction, through close readings which draw strongly on the work of major Māori social historians, authors of iwi histories and genealogies, and interpreters of cultural meanings attaching to the natural worlds, and recent work on literary stylistics by Geoffrey Leech and others. It also draws on conversations with numerous Māori informants, including some of the authors discussed. The readings are designed to reveal the rich, culturally contextualised knowledges which Māori readers bring to the texts, and which their authors share and invoke through their deployment of the values and practices of whakapapa. While such representations and explorations of self offer new interpretive possibilities for Pākehā readers, they are also part of a global movement in which indigenous peoples engage in the politics of decolonisation from a position of strength, the stance of self-knowledge. E kore e hekeheke he kākano rangatira Our ancestors will never die for they live on in each of us.
You can, I believe, gain access to this thesis by filling out a request/consent form online. See University of Auckland library online.
NOTE: again with the macrons – I can’t insert them with this computer…

Other possible tools (including both kaupapa Maori and narrative methodologies) are:

Bishop, R. (1996) Collaborative Research Stories: whakawhanaungatanga. Palmerston North: Dunmore.
Bishop, R. (2005) Freeing ourselves from Neocolonial Domination in Research: a kaupapa Maori approach to creating knowledge, in N.K. Denzin & Y. S. Lincoln (Eds) The Sage Handbook of Qualitative Research, 3rd edn, 109-164. Thousand Oaks: Sage.
Bishop, R. & Glynn, T. (1999) Culture Counts: changing power relations in education. Palmerston North: Dunmore.
Clandinin, D.J. (2007) Handbook of Narrative Inquiry. Thousand Oaks, Sage.
Clandinin, D.J. & Connelly, F.M. (2000) Narrative Inquiry: experience and story in qualitative research. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass
Clandinin, D.J. & Huber, J. (2002) Narrative Enquiry: toward understanding life’s artistry. Curriculum Enquiry. 32(2), 161-169
Connelly, F.M. & Clandinin, D.J. (1990) Stories of Experience and Narrative Enquiry. Educational Researcher, 19(5), 2-14.

Norris, J., Sawyer, R. D., & Lund, D. (Eds.). (2012). Duoethnography: Dialogic methods for social, health, and educational research. Walnut Creek: Left Coast Press.

Rau, C. & Ritchie, J. (2005) From the Margins to the Centre: repositioning Maori at the centre of early childhood education in Aotearoa/New Zealand, International Journal of Equity and Innovation in Early Childhood, 3(1), 50-60.
Ritchie, J. & Rau, C. (2005) Emergence, Convergence and Divergence in Collaborative Narrative Methodology. Paper presented at the New Zealand Association for Research in Education Conference, University of Otago, 6-9 December.

Sawyer, R. D., & Norris, J. (2012). Understanding qualitative research: Duoethnography. New York: Oxford University Press.

Schneider, A. 2003 ‘On “appropriation.” A critical reappraisal of the concept and its application in global practices,’ Social Anthropology, 11: 215-229

Schneider, A. 2006 Appropriation as Practice: Art and Identity in Argentina, New York: Palgrave MacMillan

Schulz, R., Schroeder, D. & Brody, C.M. (1997) Collaborative Narrative Inquiry: fidelity and the ethics of caring in teacher research, Qualitative Studies in Education, 10(4), 473-485.
Smith, L.T. (1999) Decolonizing Methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. London and Dunedin: Zed Books and University of Otago Press.

Ziff, B. and Rao, P. 1997 ‘Introduction to Cultural Appropriation: A Framework for Analysis,’ in B. Ziff and P. Rao (eds) Borrowed Power: Essays on Cultural Appropriation. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press

And what about the ‘small stories’ approach?

Barkhuizen, G. (Ed.). (2011). A special-topic issue on Narrative Research in TESOL. TESOL Quarterly, 45(3). [See articles by Vasquez, Norton & Early, Barkhuizen, Holmes & Marra].

Barkhuizen, G. (2010). An extended positioning analysis of a pre-service teacher’s better life smallstory. Applied Linguistics31(2), 282-300.

Bamberg, M., & Georgakopoulou, A. (2008). Small stories as a new perspective in narrative and identity analysis. Text and Talk28(3), 377-396.

de Fina, A., & Georgakopoulou, A. (2008). Analysing narratives as practices. Qualitative Research,8(3), 379-387.

Rugen, B.D. (2010). The relevance of narrative ratifications in talk-in-interaction for Japanese pre-service teachers of English. Narrative Inquiry20(1), 62-81.

Watson, C. (2007). Small stories, positioning analysis, and the doing of professional identities in learning to teach. Narrative Inquiry17(2), 371-389.


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