Sista, Stanup, Strong: The Use of Storytelling to Raise Collective Female Pasifika Voices Against Gender Violence


In her 2010 review of Michelle Keown’s 2007 book Pacific Islands Writing: The Literatures of Aotearoa/New Zealand and Oceania, Janet Wilson noted that while the Oxford University Press publication was “an essential introductory text for all students and scholars in this field,” Keown’s coverage of “recent diasporic communities of the Pacific” and “the place of women writers” were only “subsections” in the conclusion of the work. Since then, an explosion of women’s narratives from the Pacific has emerged, many of which began to break taboos in speaking out about gender violence in defiance of kustom and shame (Tupoula, 2004). This paper dedicates a space to these narratives. It traces their emergence out of the trailblazing path made from Sia Figiel’s novels that made a space out of the Pacific diaspora for speaking out about gender violence by drawing on a tradition of women’s poetry, the collective voice, and the use of fāgogo. I show how Figiel’s work has made a space for Pacific islands-based female narratives that expose the power and limits of storytelling to redress gender violence, through the anthologies that raise a collective voice (Hendersen, 2016) like Sista, Stanap, Strong! (2021) and Vā: Stories by Women of The Moana (2021), edited by award-winning Samoan writers Sisilia Eteuati and Lani Wendt Young.

Author Information
Agnieszka Dziakowska, James Cook University, Australia

Paper Information
Conference: IICAH2024
Stream: Literature/Literary Studies

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Posted by James Alexander Gordon