I Define My Own Identity Pacific Articulations of ‘Race’ and ‘Culture’on the Internet

Franklin, M. I.. 2003. I Define My Own Identity Pacific Articulations of ‘Race’ and ‘Culture’on the Internet. Ethnicities, 3(4), pp. 465-490. ISSN 1468-7968 [Article]

No full text available

Abstract or Description

Most of the participants in the internet discussion forums, the Kava Bowl and the Kamehameha Roundtable, herald from the South Pacific islands of Tonga and Samoa. These forums are part of a cluster of popular online meeting places for the ‘Polynesian Diaspora’ and other people from the Pacific Islands who live in the USA, Australia and New Zealand for the most part. They have been going strong since the mid-1990s, nearly as long as the worldwide web. One of the most recurring topics in the discussions is the nature of Tongan and/or Samoan ‘identity’ and how this relates to ‘living overseas’. In these discussions, participants - many of whom are of ‘mixed race’ - exchange personal experiences, political opinions, emotional and intellectual expectations about the outer and inner limits of race/ethnicity, and/or culture in their everyday lives. This article reconstructs several of the more substantial debates on the meaning and implications of ‘identity’ that show how these generations of the postcolonial South Pacific Islands are (re)defining what it means to be Tongan, Samoan - Polynesian - in a diasporic context. Discussions revolve around several axes; the personal and political issues of race (ethnicity) as everyday embodiments; Tongan/Samoan and Pacific Island cultures as negotiable rather than fixed practices; ways of turning colonialist categories for Pacific Island societies, such as ‘Polynesian’, into futurist tropes for communities who are often socioeconomically disadvantaged and discriminated against both ‘at home’ and ‘overseas’. As they argue, write, read, send emails and interact with one another on and offline, the creators of thousands of interwoven online texts over the years have been articulating ‘race’ and ‘culture’ on their own terms. They have been doing so in the public cyberspaces of the worldwide web, tracing, as they come and go, a nascent postcolonial politics of representation.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Media, Communications and Cultural Studies



Item ID:


Date Deposited:

20 Oct 2015 15:21

Last Modified:

27 Jun 2017 14:17

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.



Edit Record Edit Record (login required)