From February 7 to February 9, 2013, hundreds of students, faculty members, and individuals from the general public attended the WORDS IN THE WORLD: LITERATURES, ORATURES, AND NEW MEETING GROUNDS symposium at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Featured speakers included Albert Wendt, Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kimo Keaulana, Hosam Aboul-Ela, Francesca Orsini, Chantal Spitz, and Daniel Justice. All events were free and open to the public.
This symposium had its impetus in the movement within literary, cultural, and performance circles to reconceptualize the field of “world literature.” Working from a location in Hawaiʻi and Oceania, the symposium pursued an alternative vision of “words in the world” that foregrounds perspectives and cultural forms from around the world that the field of “world literature” previously peripheralized. A central theme was the need for the literatures and oratures of the world to engage indigenous aesthetic and ethical traditions of speaking from and for particular places, while developing lines of connection and affiliation among disparate communities of writers and scholars. Toward this end the symposium brought together literary critics, performance artists, and cultural practitioners—from Hawaiʻi, Oceania, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East—to discuss the situations of literatures and oratures both in relation to the earth and to each other.
A practical outcome of the symposium is a contribution to the archive of methods and pedagogical resources that study the worldliness of literature, including strategies for a new comparativism, along with reading practices elaborated from within emerging networks of literary and cultural production.
Collected below are descriptions of symposium’s panels along with links to available videos, which are available to be streamed and downloaded for free via ScholarSpace.
Symposium Committee: Cristina Bacchilega, Vilsoni Hereniko, kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui, Paul Lyons, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Tino Ramirez, S. Shankar; Student Coordinator: Anjoli Roy
Screening and Discussion of Drua: The Wave of Fire This film celebrates voyaging on double-hulled canoes in the 18th Century, their demise upon contact with Europeans, and their revival in recent years.
Friday, February 8 at the Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
Mele Panel and Performance Moderator: kuʻualoha hoʻomanawanui Panelists: Kale Hannahs, Pualani Kanakaʻole Kanahele, Kimo Keaulana, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio With a focus on mele Hawaiʻi, the indigenous music of Hawaiʻi, this panel engaged with the intersection between orature and literature, as represented by the poetry of song and chant, and performance.
Literatures of the World Moderator: Paul Lyons Panelists: Hosam Aboul-Ela, Francesca Orsini, Ruth Mabanglo, Craig Santos Perez This panel will engage from different locations the question of the limits of the concept of World Literature, both in terms of classroom practice and theoretical understandings of literary traditions across the world.
Global Native Literary Studies Moderator: Alice Te Punga Somerville Panelists: Chantal Spitz, Daniel Justice, Albert Wendt Rather than proposing how or why Indigenous and Pacific texts might be included in a concept of (and classes about) World Literature on the basis of the fact that these too are “part of the world,” the panelists will be invited to suggest how World Literature, Pacific, and Indigenous Literary worlds might mutually engage.
Performing Arts and Decolonization Performers: Donovan Kūhiō Colleps, Kale Hannahs, Brandy Nālani McDougall, Craig Santos Perez, David Kealiʻi MacKenzie, Noʻukahauʻoli Revilla, Lyz Soto, Duncan Osorio, Jonathan Kamakawiwoʻole Osorio, Danny Carvalho An evening of spoken word poetry, dance, and music.
Saturday, February 9 at the Hālau o Haumea, Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies
Translation(s) Moderator: Cristina Bacchilega Panelists: Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o, Yung-Hee Kim, Bryan Kuwada, S. Shankar This panel will discuss the impact of translation on the conceptualization and circulation of literatures and oratures in the world, historically and in the present, and ask how translation practices can contribute to resisting a globalizing pedagogy of "world literature."
Closing Roundtable Student Facilitators, including Meghan Leialoha Au, Jacquelyn Chappel, Kim Compoc, Steven Gin, Bryan Kuwada, Cheryl Naruse, Tagi Qolouvaki, No‘u Revilla, Aiko Yamashiro In a similar spirit of an “alternative vision of words in the world,” the Student Hui sought new and different ways to generate discussion, conversation, observations, and reflection among symposium panelists and participants through capturing reactions, questions, themes, and memories generated from the symposium.
The Words in the World Symposium was made possible through the support of the following sponsors: Gladys ʻAinoa Brandt Chair in Polynesian Studies; Office of the Dean, College of Languages, Linguistics, and Literature; Office of the Dean, School of Pacific and Asian Studies; Office of the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs; Rama Watumull Collaborative Lectures Series of the Center for South Asian Studies; Academy for Creative Media; Department of English; Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge; Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies; Kuleana ʻŌiwi Press; Native Voices