Help us develop our program and catalyze critical ocean literacy by donating below

Skip to navigation Skip to main content

Digital initiative

Messy Studio: Pacific Futures



On Ocean Archive and on Ocean Space and TBA21–Academy Facebook pages

What does it mean to think about the Anthropocene oceans from a Pacific perspective? What space-time is being invoked when politicians and the media use the term “Pacific century”?

Engaging with contemporary studies of the Pacific invites us to enter a vast cultural-natural landscape fraught with colonial violence and dispossession, neocolonial grabbing and nuclear imperialism, militarization, and extractivist capitalism. But it also means heeding the vast knowledges of Pacific islanders in cohabiting with Pacific waters and lifeforms, and the many everyday practices perfected to harness calamities and harvest the ocean’s fruits.

How do we hear, with respect, the voices and positions that have been vexted, ghosted, and silenced? How can the articulations and worldviews of Pacific knowledges resurface and be integrated in the ecocritical discourse on the Pacific? To approach these questions, we need to throw into sharp relief new interdisciplinary frameworks for understanding the coalescing polarities of contemporaneity and history; science, activism, and poetics; “routes and roots,” and for evaluating our own research with the oceans and their many and diverse inhabitants.

Working from within an hydrofeminist perspective, Jaimey Hamilton Faris looks at indigenous poetic and artistic practices carrying an agency that challenges eco-cosmopolitan regimes of representation and objectification, a way to defy “not only the continuity between colonial and neo-liberal operations but also the continuity between colonial and environmental scopic regimes.”[1]In the work of Pacific poets, such as Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner, Faris identifies processes of self-consciousness: thinking of being bodies of water as to generate aesthetic regimes that go beyond essentializing tropes of the climate catastrophe faced by many Pacific communities. “Figuring their bodies as part of the rising water, not victims of it, their ‘feminism without borders’ offers an alternative to climate discussions that still operate within implicit capitalist, nationalist, and power-elite frameworks.”[2]

The Messy Studio conversation on “Pacific Futures,” bringing together Pacific scholars, artists, and activists, aims to co-develop transformative methodologies and approaches for the respectful and reciprocal engagement of communities of care in research, activism, and art. It questions the persistence of power relations in art, academia, and policymaking, studying questions of ethics across scales, and the multiple engagements of Pacific Island nations with international climate justice. The words “research” and “knowledge” of the Pacific can be vexing enough, drenched in experiences of subjugation. In this context, artistic practices involving the reclaiming of land, intergenerational knowledge, material history, and archival restitutions—all issues present in Taloi Havini’s work—can offer rich analytical perspectives.

In the essay “Against Authenticity: Global Knowledges and Postcolonial Ecocriticism,” co-authored with Cara Cilano, scholar Elizabeth DeLoughrey tackles the problem of ecocriticism as a problem of self-awareness, of “situating the frame” from which one speaks in order not to replicate the power structures of colonial history. In this respect, ecocriticism “needs to move paradoxically not closer to nature but back through culture in order to examine the tensions and contradictions that structure our engagements with the physical world–including (and especially) the tensions and contradictions of ecocriticism itself.”[3]

During this Messy Studio, multiple voices will explore the (hi)stories that are inscribed in the Equatorial Pacific trajectory by Territorial Agency, a trajectory that builds upon dispersed data collected from global fishing survey, ocean climate modeling, maritime transport systems, and visualizations of the environmental impact of nuclear tests. From the Caribbean Sea through the Panama Canal, traversing the Pacific Ocean via the Clarion-Clipperton Fracture Zone, Hawaii, the Marshall Islands, and the Bay of Bengal via the Strait of Malacca—along these paths, which legal, political, poetic, and narrative tools can we embrace to sharpen our understanding of the oceans and their multiple futures in the making?

Messy Studios are peer-to-peer gatherings conceived by Territorial Agency mobilizing critical thinking and research along the interconnected narratives and ecopolitical trajectories of “Oceans in Transformation. Messy Studios engage scientists, artists, governmental and civil society groups, policy makers and conservationists to come together with the aim to forge new pathways for action and new imaginaries for the ocean.

Jaimey Hamilton Faris, Sisters of Ocean And Ice. On the Hydro-feminism of Kathy Jetn̄il-Kijiner and Aka Niviâna’s Rise: From One Island to Another, Shima Journal, 2019, p. 78

[2] Ibid.

[3] Susie O’Brien, quoted in Cara Cilano and Elizabeth DeLoughrey, “Against Authenticity: Global Knowledges and Postcolonial Ecocriticism,” Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment vol. 14, no. 1 (Winter 2007): 71–87.


7–9 pm CET // 10–12 a.m. PDT // 12 a.m.–2 a.m. ICT
Messy Studio: Pacific Futures

Presentation by Elizabeth DeLoughrey, professor of postcolonial and indigenous literature, UCLA; Jaimey Hamilton Faris, associate professor of critical theory and art history, the University of Hawaii, Manoa; Maureen Penjueli, coordinator, Pacific Network on Globalisation, PANG, Fiji; and Taloi Havini, artist and curator with the participation of Territorial Agency, Markus Reymann, Daniela Zyman, and the participants of the Ocean Fellowship Program.

The event will be live-streamed on Ocean-Archive.org and TBA21–Academy and Ocean Space Facebook pages.


Jaimey Hamilton Faris is associate professor of critical theory and art history at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. Her research focuses on visual approaches to global systems, infrastructure, and ecologies, and art practices that engage with the hidden social and environmental costs of global trade and capital infrastructure. She is author of the book Uncommon Goods (Intellect, 2013). In Almanac for the Beyond, she looks at experimental ecocriticism devoted to cultivating pluriverse futures beyond petro-capital structures. In Liquid Archives, Liquid Futures, Hamilton Faris explores new approaches to representations of climate justice in contemporary art, in conjunction with the exhibition “Inundation: art and climate change in the Pacific,” featuring works and artists who address the Asia Pacific region. Based in Honolulu for thirteen years, she co-founded the nonprofit arts project space OFF[hrs]. She was director of UHM’s artist residency program, organizer of 2011 “alterna-APEC” events during the APEC summit in Honolulu, and head of the 2018–19 International Cultural Studies Research Group on Liquid Futures. Since 2008, she has been leading a research program on oral histories of Hawaii’s artists with the aim of establishing a digital archive.

Elizabeth DeLoughrey is a professor at UCLA who teaches postcolonial and indigenous literature courses on the environment, globalization, and the Anthropocene and climate change, with a focus on the Caribbean and Pacific Islands. She is an advisory member of The Living Archive: Extinction Stories from Oceania Project and with Thom Van Dooren, was co-editor of the interdisciplinary open-access journal Environmental Humanities. Her recent fellowships include a University of California President’s Faculty Research Fellowship and a Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society Fellowship in Munich, Germany. She is the author of Routes and Roots: Navigating Caribbean and Pacific Literatures (2007), and co-editor of the volumes Caribbean Literature and the Environment: Between Nature and Culture (2005); Postcolonial Ecologies: Literatures of the Environment (2011); and Global Ecologies and the Environmental Humanities: Postcolonial Approaches (2015). Her latest book, Allegories of the Anthropocene examines climate change and empire in the literary and visual arts and was published by Duke University Press in 2019.

Maureen Penjueli was born on the island of Rotuma but spent most of her schooling life in Lautoka, Fiji. She undertook the foundation in science program at the University of the South Pacific and gained a degree in environmental science at Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia. Penjueli is a dedicated activist, having pursued environmental, social, and economic justice issues throughout the region for over twenty years. She is currently coordinator for the Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG), a leading regional NGO working on trade and economic justice issues. PANG’s work involves research, lobbying, and advocacy with and on behalf of civil society groups, faith-based organizations, communities, and customary landowners. Her experience and engagement with the Pacific is central to new paths of activism for the Pacific people and ocean.

Taloi Havini, currently based in Sydney, Australia, is originally from Arawa, Autonomous Region of Bougainville. Her work is a personal response to the politics of location, exploring contested sites and histories connected within Oceania by employing photography, sculpture, immersive video, and mixed-media installations. Working with living contemporary practitioners she is actively involved in community projects in Bougainville and Australia, such as the project and exhibition “Women’s Wealth.” Her work is part of public and private collections including the Sharjah Art Foundation, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art, National Gallery of Victoria, and Kadist in San Francisco, California. Havini holds a BA from the Canberra School of Art, Australian National University, and has exhibited in Palais de Tokyo, Paris, Sharjah Biennial 13, UAE, 3rd Aichi Triennial, Nagoya, 8th & 9th Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art, and Queensland Art Gallery & Gallery of Modern Art in Brisbane.