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  • 1.
    Purcell Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska. University of Otago .
    An analysis of Samoan reaction to The Orator (O Le Tulafale)’s Fāgogo defining Samoan identity2013Studentarbete övrigtStudentuppsats (Examensarbete)
    Abstract [en]

    The Orator (O Le Tulafale) was promoted as the first Samoan language film shot in Samoa with a Samoan cast and crew. Written and directed by Samoan filmmaker Tusi Tamasese, the film succeeded at several of the movie industry’s prestigious festivals. The Orator (O Le Tulafale) is about an outcast family of a dwarf (Saili), his wife and her teenage daughter. As the main protagonist, Saili battles to overcome his fears to become a chief to save his family and land. The film’s themes are courage, love, honour , as well as hypocrisy, violence, and discrimination. A backlash by Samoans was predicted ; however, the opposite occurred. This raised the following questions: first, what is it about the film causing this reaction? It is a 106 -minute film shot in Samoa about Samoans and the Samoan culture . D espite promotional claims about the film , there have been Samoan -produced films in Samoa . Secondly, to what are Samoans really responding? Is it 1) just to the film because it is about Samoa, or 2) are they responding to themselves , and how they reacted during the act of watching the film? This implies levels of reactions in the act of watching, and examining the dominant level of response is important. To explore this, t he Samoan story telling technique of Fāgogo was used to analyse the film’s narration and narrative techniques. R. Allen’s (1993, 1997) concept of projected illusion was employed to discuss the relationship between Samoans and the film developed during the act of watching. An examination of the term Samoan and a description of the framework of Fa’a Samoa (Samoan culture) were provided. Also included were discussions of memory and its impact on Samoan cultural identity. The analysis indicated that The Orator (O Le Tulafale) acted as a memory prompt through which Samoans recalled memories confirming and defining cultural bonds. These memories constituted the essence of being Samoan. These memories were awakened, and shared as oral histories as fāgogo. The receivers appeared to interpret the shared memories to create their own memories and stories to suit their contexts, according to Facebook postings. An interpretation is that the organic sharing of memories as fā gogo created a global definition of Samoan that Samoans internationally claimed.

  • 2.
    Purcell Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska.
    Exploring 'Samoaness' in the Samoan language film The Orator (O Le Tulafale)2012Ingår i: The Proceedings Book of ISLC 2012, Turkey, 2012, s. 1839-1847Konferensbidrag (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    The Pacific nation of the Independent Samoa (formerly Western Samoa)  is not known for having a developed film industry.   In 2011, a Samoan languge film called The Orator (O le Tulafale) placed the spotlight on Samoa, its people, and the Samoan culture when it became the country’s first ever film to be accepted into major international film festivals such as the 68th Venice Film Festival.  Samoans the world over have embraced the film for its richness, compassion, and authenticity. Yet at times, the film portrays the Samoan culture as harsh and cruel.   Samoans are usually quick to criticise negative portrayals of their culture but the thousands of comments on the film’s official Facebook page show otherwise.  From April 2011 to March 2012, there were only 11 comments criticising the film on Facebook, and these criticisms were denounced as ‘un-Samoan’. This raised the question as to why Samoans did not react to the unflattering portrayals of their culture, but instead react against legitimate criticisms of the film.  By using Foucault’s concept of heterotopia and the Samoan narrative structure of fāgogo, a heterotopia space and a utopia space are created in which past memories confirming Samoan cultural identity and bonds to the culture are evoked and are (re)experienced by Samoans while viewing the film.  Thus the film’s ability to encourage this is what Samoans praise rather than the actual film.  

  • 3.
    Purcell Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska.
    My Name is Gary Cooper, but it is also Samoan2016Ingår i: Transcultural Identity: Constructions in a Changing World / [ed] Irene Gilsenan Nordin, Chatarina Edfeldt, Lung-Lung Hu, Herbert Jonsson, André Leblanc, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2016, s. 306-325Kapitel i bok, del av antologi (Refereegranskat)
    Abstract [en]

    In the Samoan culture, chiefly titles are a form of oral history and cultural knowledge.  In this chapter, I interpret the term Samoan to be a title that has its own oral history and cultural knowledge. Those who call themselves Samoan belong to this history. However, Samoan is a title which is contested and (re)defined by contemporary Samoan cultural practitioners in immigration destination countries such as New Zealand. Examples are Victor Roger’s play My Name is Gary Cooper, Oscar Kightley and Simon Small’s play Fresh Off the Boat, and Tusi Tamasese’s film The Orator (O Le Tulafale). These works subvert the Western gaze upon the Samoan as the exotic and present a cultural mirror to Samoans to reveal how they view themselves. They form a larger discussion on a transnational or meta-Samoan culture and identity that is inclusive and that reflects the urban and cosmopolitan realities of Samoans whether they are in Samoa or abroad.  

  • 4.
    Purcell Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska.
    My name is Gary Cooper: Western popular culture and Samoan cultural identity2014Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
  • 5.
    Purcell Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska.
    My Name is Samoan2015Ingår i: Negotiating Modern Pacific Island Identities, 2015Konferensbidrag (Övrig (populärvetenskap, debatt, mm))
    Abstract [en]

    In the Samoan culture, chiefly titles are a form of oral history and cultural knowledge.  In this paper, I interpret the term Samoan to be a title that has its own oral history and cultural knowledge. Those who call themselves Samoan belong to this history. However, Samoan is a title which is contested and (re)defined by contemporary Samoan cultural practitioners in immigration destination countries such as New Zealand. Examples are Victor Roger’s play My Name is Gary Cooper, Oscar Kightley and Simon Small’s play Fresh Off the Boat, and Tusi Tamasese’s film The Orator (O Le Tulafale). These works subvert the Western gaze upon the Samoan as the exotic and present a cultural mirror to Samoans to reveal how they view themselves. They form a larger discussion on a transnational or meta-Samoan culture and identity that is inclusive and that reflects the urban and cosmopolitan realities of Samoans whether they are in Samoa or abroad as seen in web networks such as the “Coconet”.

  • 6.
    Purcell-Sjölund, Anita
    Högskolan Dalarna, Akademin Humaniora och medier, Engelska.
    Laffing wif ’n at da Fob, paht hooz da Fob? A discussion of the comedy performances of The Laughing Samoans in New Zealand: (Laughing with and at the Fob, but who's the Fob?)2013Ingår i: The Stockholm 2013 Metaphor Festival, Stockholm University, 29 - 31 August 2013: Conference proceedings book, 2013, s. 64-65Konferensbidrag (Övrigt vetenskapligt)
    Abstract [en]

    The Laughing Samoans is a comedy duo comprising New Zealand-born Samoan comedian Tofiga Fepulea’i, and Samoan-born actor Etuati Ete. Having performed throughout the Pacific region, The Laughing Samoans over-exaggerate and mock Samoan immigrants’ interaction with the New Zealand Pakeha (NZ-Europeans) as well as among Samoans, who are the fastest-growing immigrant group in New Zealand.

    In the Samoan culture, comic theatre is known as faleaitu (‘house of spirits’). Faleaitudeals with tensions and conflicts in the Samoan community by providing a comic mirror for the community. Fa’a Samoa (Samoan culture) is a chief-based system, wherein open criticism is discouraged. Hereniko (1994) explained that in faleaitu, actors are clowns and are seen as possessed by a spirit which criticises Samoan chiefs and institutions. Faleaitu is reminiscent of Bakhtin’s (1984) concept of the carnival, using masking and dissembling to turn the social world inside out to reconstruct social relations. The Laughing Samoans portray stereotypes of Samoans as educationally, economically, and socially backwards, in other words FOB (an importer’s acronym for “free on board”). Applied to Pacific Island immigrants, FOB became an acronym for “fresh off the boat” and is the derogatory equivalent to the term “nigger” applied to AfroAmericans.

    In their comedy sketches as a type of faleaitu, The Laughing Samoans enact the stereotypes of Samoans as well as mock Samoans’ attempts to mimic Pakeha. In their performances, The Laughing Samoans speak a variety of English called Pasifika (Pacific) English. Some of the characteristics of Pasifika English are a heavy island (Samoan) accent, slurred pronunciation of English, the mistaken use of prepositions, and switching of sentence word-order. Dominant in The Laughing Samoans’ use of Pasifika English are features such as puns, homonyms, and clichés to create (mis)communication with Pakeha characters and critically comment on aspects of Fa’a Samoa.

    An analysis of The Laughing Samoans’ performances indicates that what is going on is what Balme (2007:182) called reverse colonial mimicry, thereby contradicting Bhabha’s (1994:85-92) concept of mimicry, which may be described as reinforcing colonial cultural dominance. Through their use of Pasifika English and their mock faafafine (cross-dressing), The Laughing Samoans imitate the ways Pakeha as the dominant cultural group see themselves. In some comedy sketches the power and cultural dynamics are realigned and shifted so that Pakehabecome the FOB. In addition, The Laughing Samoans mocked the essentialist attitude many Samoan immigrants have of Fa’a Samoa, an attitude which results in the bastardisation of fundamental cultural values. Suggested in some comedy sketches of The Laughing Samoans is a fluid and contextual definition of the essence of Samoan in an immigrant destination country.

    References:

    Bakhtin, Mikhail. 1984. Rabelais and His World (Tr. Hélène Iswolsky). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

    Balme, Christopher. 2007. Pacific Performances. Theatricality and cross-cultural encounter in the South Seas. Hampshire and New York: Palgrave MacMillan.

    Bhabha, Homi. 1994. The Location of Culture. New York: Routledge.

    Hereniko, Vilsoni. 1994. “Clowning as Political Commentary: Polynesia, then and now,” in The Contemporary Pacific 6:1, 1–28.

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