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Maori Identity Expression and Development in Once Were Warriors - Essay Example

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The topic is identity expression and identity development of indigenous tribes, specifically the Maoris of New Zealand. I explored how Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors reflects indigenous expression and decolonisation themes using textual analysis and semiotics…
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Maori Identity Expression and Development in Once Were Warriors
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Download file to see previous pages I used the concepts and arguments from the following major theorists: Murray and Conrich (2008), Barclay (1990), Pihama (1996), Alia and Bull (2005) and Mita (1996). Murray and Conrich (2008) explore the meaning of ‘indigenous self-expression,’ while Barclay (1990) describes the process and effects of ‘talking in’ for indigenous people. Pihama (1996) emphasises the importance of contextualising Maori violence in order to avoid ethnic stereotyping. Alia and Bull (2005, p.64) argue that as indigenous groups internalise outsider views and develop their own internal understanding of their societies, they are involved in the ‘invention of tradition.’ Mita (1996) asserts that films provide the opportunity of decolonising themes. For this essay, I ask: How does Once Were Warriors reflect the ideas of the ‘indigenous self-expression’ (Murray and Conrich 2008), ‘our own image’ and ‘talking in’ (Barclay 1990), and ‘decolonising the screen’ (Mita 1996)? Once Were Warriors reflects ‘indigenous self-expression’ (Murray and Conrich 2008), ‘our own image’ and ‘talking in’ (Barclay 1990) through emphasising the remaking and reclaiming of the warrior Maori culture in different ways and ‘decolonising the screen’ (Mita 1996) through reducing Western influences and focusing on the legitimacy of the hybrid Maori-modern culture. The paper concludes that Once Were Warriors signifies the remaking of Maori identity through the process of reclaiming their warriorhood status that simultaneously decolonises Maori identity development. ii. Reflexive Introduction I chose this film because it represents the breakdown of the indigenous social fabric, after colonisation has eroded the cultural fabric of the colonised. As a person who has a strong sense of colonisation history and who values family and clan ties, I can relate to the impacts of colonisation and urbanisation on the social ties and identity-making of the Maori. Colonisation and its subsequent urbanisation and commercialisation effects have eroded the Maoris’ sense of identity, affecting not only their ethnic group as a whole, but also their family roots and individual personalities. I am then interpreting the film, not only from the views and concepts of the aforementioned theorists, but also from my own family and social values and experiences, because I am someone who deeply respects and values collectivistic societies, of which I am also a proud part of. I continue to strongly ground my analysis on scholarly research, nonetheless, through using textual analysis and semiotics that can help me attain a balanced perspective. iii. Background Introduction Since the early 1970s, a significant cultural shift is changing Maori representation in films, a shift called the “Maori Renaissance” (Keown 2008, p.197). Lee Tamahori’s Once Were Warriors belongs to this shift, as it portrays the implications of one of the historical events in the Maoris’ lives, their migration from rural, coastal ancestral lands to Pakeha-dominated urban areas and the effects of this migration to their ethnic identity-making process and identities (Keown 2008, p.197). For this essay, I explore how the film reflects indigenous expression and decolonisation themes. My research question is: How does Once Were Warriors reflect the ideas of the ‘indigenous self-expression’ (Murray and Conrich 2008), ‘our own image’ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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