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From the 28th of May to the 3rd of June 2019, Associate Professor Katerina Teaiwa and PhD candidates Talei Luscia Mangioni, Bianca Hennessy and Mitiana Arbon participated in the Transregional Academy at UC Berkeley themed "Histories of Migrant Knowledges in and across the Transpacific: Agencies, Scales, Translations".
This Transregional Academy aimed to study migration across the metageographical space known as the Transpacific, examining the diverse entanglements of histories, peoples, materials and societies.
The ANU group were in great company with an array of emerging scholars from across the region from a multitude of disciplines. The academy was organized jointly by The Forum Transregionale Studien and the Max Weber Stiftung – German Humanities Institutes Abroad in cooperation with the Pacific Regional Office of the German Historical Institute Washington DC (GHI West) at UC Berkeley, the Maria Sibylla Merian Center for Advanced Latin American Studies in the Humanities and Social Sciences (CALAS), and the Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley, and was chaired by Simone Lässig (German Historical Institute Wash- ington DC), Ryan Jones (University of Oregon), Albert Manke (Bielefeld University), Akasemi New- some (Institute of European Studies, UC Berkeley), Katerina Teaiwa (Australian National University Canberra), Andrea Westermann (Head of Office of GHI West, UC Berkeley).
The academy was organised and approached as a heuristic device, which allowed the capacity to push participants towards more intense collaborations between the disciplines of history, literary studies, anthropology, Latin American Studies, Pacific Studies, and political science.
Participants were divided into small and intimate workshop groups where each was able to present a paper they had written and receive measured and critical feedback on their writing and presentation. In addition, each participant facilitated important discussions around allocated subjects for broader group discussions, this included conversations around decolonising the form in academia, as well as, blackness, academic blogging, decolonisation and climate change in the Pacific. These were interspersed with group viewings of Pacific focused films, an excursion to Angel Island in San Francisco and times for socialising and reflection.
Talei Luscia Mangioni’s paper on nuclear colonialism of the Pacific, traced academic networks of nuclear science programmes across the Pacific ocean, considered concepts of settler amnesia, haunting and situated academic knowledges and finally, acknowledged creative resistance of activist kin of the Nuclear Free and Independent Pacific (NFIP) movement in which she was in the process of conducting oral histories with.
Bianca Hennessy presented a chapter of her PhD thesis which discussed ideas of place in Pacific Studies, argued that these ideas might signal deeper epistemic work to do with projects of academic transformation, and illuminated the way that indigeneity, community, and intellectual genealogy are embedded within university departments.
Mitiana Arbon’s paper examined the way in which Pacific material culture is framed by fine art auction houses, who simultaneously fetishize western provenances whilst distancing indigenous conceptualisations of value and meaning.
The unique experience offered important interventions to the discipline of Pacific studies in which all of the participants were part of and gave opportunities for connection with other Pacific scholars from around the world. The journey to Berkeley was immensely valuable for the connections made between emerging scholars, and for the unique format: one in which works-in-progress were discussed with generosity both with regards to time allowed per person, and to the spirit of constructive feedback.