Wayfinding Pasifikafuturism : an indigenous science fiction vision of the ocean in space : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Creative Writing at Massey University, Manawatu, New Zealand

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This thesis examines science fiction space stories written by Indigenous writers and asks how these texts look to the past while commenting on the present and providing transformative imaginaries of our existence as Indigenous peoples in the future. It also investigates how these texts challenge the inherent colonialism of the science fiction genre and its norm of the white, male, heteronormative, cisgender point of view. This thesis comprises two sections, creative and critical. Twenty percent provides the critical analyses and eighty percent makes up the creative section. The critical component is in two parts. The first part defines the specific point of view adopted in this thesis, which is that of science fiction literature written by Māori and Pasifika authors as the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific. This point of view is captured within the term I have developed and called, “Pasifikafuturism”, a theoretical construct that situates Oceanic science fiction in the afterlife of colonisation and seeks to move beyond postcolonialism to create Pacific conceptions of the future. Pasifikafuturism is located alongside other Alternative Futurisms with which it has commonalities, including Afrofuturism, Indigenous Futurism, Queer Indigenous Futurism, Chicanafuturism, Latinofuturism, and Africanfuturism. Pasifikafuturism is identified within the context of the Pacific Ocean and the ancestral practices and methodologies of wayfinding and waka building. The second part of the critical study comprises a close reading of two science fiction space stories written by Indigenous authors. The first is Witi Ihimaera’s space novella Dead of Night, a story about six people travelling through space to the end of the universe, or Te Kore. The second is Nnedi Okorafor’s novella Binti in which the titular protagonist, a young Indigenous woman from the Himba tribe in Namib, is the first person in her community to travel into space to attend an intergalactic university. In the creative portion of this thesis, Pasifikafuturism is explored imaginatively in an original novel titled Na Viro, which is shaped and informed by my critical research. Na Viro is a work of science fiction set in interstellar space and the Pacific. Tia, the protagonist in Na Viro, is a young Fijian woman who travels into space to rescue her sister from a whirlpool. This thesis argues that science fiction, and specifically space stories, can be used as a lens through which to examine the histories and ancestral knowledge of Indigenous peoples adversely impacted by colonialism; and as a way of reclaiming and re-growing Indigenous knowledge that has survived. Furthermore, I use Pacific wayfinding as a methodological framework to enable the envisioning of transformative futures in science fiction stories where our knowledges are centralised, privileged, and respected.
Science fiction, History and criticism, Indigenous authors, Ihimaera, Witi, Dead of night, Okorafor, Nnedi, Binti, Outer space, Pacific Ocean, Fiction