Some Diaspora Legba/Pākehā Reflections on Robbie Shilliam’s ‘The Black Pacific’
“When I first started reading Robbie Shilliam’s The Black Pacific last April, I was only a couple of pages in when I shot him the following email: “Sitting on a sunny terras [sic] by the waterfront in Antwerp and reading your book. It is not often that I feel deeply comforted, healing, cared for and utterly inspired reading an academic text… At some point I’ll hopefully have more eloquent ways to share my thoughts with you on your book, for now it’s just feelings…🙂”
Today, more than half a year later, the point of ‘more eloquence’ has supposedly arrived, but I doubt that I will ever truly reach it when it comes to this remarkable book.
In what follows I will share some preliminary thoughts on The Black Pacific, rather than venture into a full on book review. The book challenges our traditional (read: colonial) ways of doing research so convincingly and profoundly, that a conventional review would not do it justice. Too many of our research ways continue to be concerned with the generalizable and the linear. Divisive categorisations still play an important role and we end up with consumable knowledge at the service of the (oppressive) control of reality and peoples. Too often then, academic conversations, ideally conceived as open spaces for dialogue, exchange and creation, ossify into zones of judgementality, oxygenised by a misguided belief that there are indeed some absolute truths out there. The Black Pacific speaks a radically different language.
To me, it sang like Rebel Music at the heart of the (IR) academy and as such, it was a source of comforting discomfort.”
Part 4 in the Disorder of Things Forum on Robbie Shilliam’s The Black Pacific by Olivia U. Rutazibwa.