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"Drunken Youth, Deportees, and Moral Panic in Tonga: Excavating the ‘Natural Man’ in Oceania"

Kauvaka, Lea L. (2012) "Drunken Youth, Deportees, and Moral Panic in Tonga: Excavating the ‘Natural Man’ in Oceania". UNSPECIFIED. (Unpublished)

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In this paper, I consider media accounts of the 2006 civil riots in Nukuʻalofa, Tonga. Dwelling particularly on how journalists came to repeat the story that it was “drunken youth” and “deportees” from America who were responsible for the destruction which left numerous shops looted and burned and eight people dead, I frame the insertion of ‘the deportees’ into this media narrative with reference to United States immigration policy and within the larger context of late 20th century economic migration from Tonga. I go on to consider the ways in which parallel discourses regarding ‘American deportees’ emerge in other Pacific and Caribbean contexts within a similar time period. Pushing past the shallow representations inherent in journalistic writing, I travel beyond the moral panic about ‘deportees’ and delve into a deeper search to excavate a discursive genealogy of dangerous masculinities upon which journalistic representations – and, often, moral panics more generally - rely. This discursive genealogy includes the identities of the 16th century rogue ‘picaro’, the 19th century Indian ‘thug’, and the 20th century ‘American gangster’. Through a variety of texts, both written and visual, I consider some of the ways in which these discursive identities are connected and speculate whether they might be understood as variations of ‘the Natural Man’, who, to borrow a phrase from Giorgio Agamban, is the “mythologeme” which underwrites the fabled ‘social contract’ between the state and society. I question whether this particular mythologeme of the ‘Natural Man’ has currency in Oceania beyond such journalistic renderings such as the ‘deportee’ moral panic, or whether this mythologeme, like other forms of contemporary political control and social regulation, is imported to justify the (ongoing) presence of state apparatuses designed to reinforce a particular (post)colonial juridical order. I close this paper with an invocation and appeal to Māui, legendary ancestor of the peoples of the sea, and also perhaps the most famous tapu-breaker in Oceania and I wonder how a genealogical return to myth might illuminate a pathway into the past-future of Polynesian youths at ‘home’ and in the diaspora.

Item Type: Other
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BH Aesthetics
D History General and Old World > DU Oceania (South Seas)
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JC Political theory
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > Oceania Centre for Arts, Culture and Pacific Studies
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email
Date Deposited: 23 Apr 2014 04:11
Last Modified: 01 Aug 2016 23:56

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