PASIFIKA BLACK: RACE, POWER & DIASPORA IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC

QUITO SWAN

In 1961, a group of black West Papuans ushered an urgent declaration to their fellow “Negroids of the world.” It read, “We are living in the Pacific, our people are called Papuans, our ethnic origin is the Negroid Race. We do not want to be slaves anymore.” Yearning for international support in their struggle against Indonesian colonialism, West Papuans continually reached out to their “tribesmen” across the African Diaspora. A year later, the Pittsburgh Courier reported that Papuans needed their African and American “Negro brothers and sisters” to pressure the United Nations to stop the “Indonesian menace.” Then in 1970, West Papuans informed Netherlands media that African Papuans—a “Melanesian sub-race of the Black race”—were being “slaughtered by the Indonesian government.”

This extended moment illuminates the essence of Pasifika Black, which is a unique and original book about Black internationalism in the South Pacific. Pasifika Black is the first text to comprehensively narrate how indigenous black anti-colonial movements across the South Pacific forged relationships with the broader Black Diaspora through travel, media, and literature. In doing so, it elucidates a few of the ways in which the long, complicated and gendered webs of Black internationalism weaved across the world.

Over nine chapters, Pasifika Black creatively describes how the threads of Black Power, Pan-Africanism, US Civil Rights and African/Caribbean nationalism deeply touched the South Pacific. These ideas helped to transform the racialized notion of Melanesia—a once negative colonial imposition—into a radical icon of black transnational identity.


Quito Swan

Professor Quito Swan obtained his Ph.D. in African Diaspora History from Howard University in 2005. His areas of expertise include Black internationalism, Black Power and decolonization across the Americas, Africa and the South Pacific. Swan teaches courses on the global African Diaspora, including social movements, Black Power, maroonage and black protest though music such as Reggae, Hip-Hop and Afro-Beat. He advises Howard's Chess Club and its Students Against Mass Incarceration (S.A.M.I.) and is currently the Undergraduate Director for the History Department. Swan’s first book, Black Power in Bermuda and the Struggle for Decolonization(Palgrave Macmillan, 2009) focused on Black Power, Bermuda and anti-colonialism in the West Indies.

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