Postcolonial Pacific Writing: Representations of the Body

By Michelle Keown | Go to book overview

3

Purifying the abject body

Satire and scatology in Epeli Hau'ofa's Kisses in the Nederends

Epeli Hau'ofa's writing, like Figiel's and Wendt's, is centrally concerned with the socio-political problems which have followed colonialism and independence in the Pacific region, and he similarly critiques stereotypical representations of indigenous bodies and cultures within European discourse. Hau'ofa differs from Wendt and Figiel, however, in his unique comi-satirical approach to representing the indigenous body. In his novel Kisses in the Nederends (1987)-the primary focus of discussion in this chapter-Hau'ofa sets out to metaphorically liberate the indigenous body from the limitations of various discourses and social taboos, and the comic resolution of the novel points towards possible solutions for worldwide problems of discrimination and social exclusion. This chapter investigates the influence of Hau'ofa's anthropological training upon his representation of indigenous bodies and cultures, also evaluating his corporeal humour with reference to the relationship between satire and scatology in European and postcolonial literary traditions.

Hau'ofa, like Wendt, is a senior figure in Pacific literature, and he shares with his Samoan counterpart a multifaceted education and employment history. Born in Papua New Guinea in 1939 to Tongan missionary parents, Hau'ofa attended primary and secondary school in Papua New Guinea, Tonga, Fiji and Australia, subsequently pursuing his tertiary education at the University of New England (Australia), McGill University (Montreal), and the Australian National University, where he graduated with a PhD in Social Anthropology. Since completing his tertiary education, Hau'ofa has held a variety of employment positions, including an academic post at the University of Papua New Guinea, a position as Deputy Private Secretary to the King of Tonga, and a chair in Sociology at the University of the South Pacific, where he is now Professor and Director of the Oceania Centre for Arts and Culture.

In addition to publishing several non-fiction works focusing upon political, economic and cultural issues in the Pacific, Hau'ofa has produced two prose fiction texts: a novel entitled Kisses in the Nederends (1987) and a short story collection, Tales of the Tikongs (1983). Both texts, which are set on fictional Pacific Islands, draw upon Hau'ofa's wide experience of

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