New Zealand Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence
Last Updated: 12 April 2015
Resistance and Becoming: The Inevitable Paradox of Oppression
BY LEAH WHIU*
In this article, I draw upon my personal experiences to explore how the dominant practice and theory of identity construction as a binary, dualistic and relational process is implicated in the formation, production and reflection of relationships of power between the subject and object. I am particularly interested in how subjugated groups such as indigenous communities, feminist communities and lesbian and gay communities simultaneously struggle against and resist race, gender and sexuality oppression while they themselves, at times, also perpetuate oppressive practices and tactics.
A central feature of the dehumanising' coloniser—colonised or oppressor—oppressed relationship that I wish to explore in this paper is the practice of constructing identity as a dichotomous set of fixed, stable categories which form, produce and reflect relationships of power
* Ms Leah Whiu (Ngatihine, Ngapuhi), Law, University of Waikato.
See Freire, P Pedagogy of the Oppressed (Harmondsworth, Middlesex: Penguin, 1972) 20-21, where he discusses the concepts of humanisation and dehumanisation:
While the problem of humanization has always been, from an axiological point of view, man's central problem, it now takes on the character of an inescapable concern. Concern for humanization leads at once to the recognition of dehumanization, not only as an ontological possibility but as an historical reality. And as man perceives the extent of dehumanization, he asks himself if humanization is a viable possibility. Within history, in concrete, objective contexts, both humanization and dehumanization are possibilities for man as an uncompleted being conscious of his incompleteness.
But while both humanization and dehumanization are real alternatives, only
the first is man's vocation. This vocation is constantly
negated, yet it is
affirmed by that very negation. It is thwarted by injustice, exploitation,
oppression, and the violence of the
oppressors: it is
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between the subject and object. For colonised indigenous people or other subjugated groups, identity construction and reconstruction is part of a political and social strategic response to the dehumanising processes of oppression.' At its most fundamental level, it is also about cultural survival and what some indigenous peoples argue is a human right to be Maori, Hawaiian' or Cree, for instance! However there is
affirmed by the yearning of the oppressed for freedom and justice, and by their struggle to recover their lost humanity.
Dehumanization, which marks not only those whose humanity has been stolen, but also (though in a different way) those who have stolen it, is a distortion of the vocation of becoming more fully human. This distortion occurs within history, but it is not an historical vocation. Indeed, to accept dehumanization as an historical vocation would lead either to cynicism or total despair. The struggle for humanization, for the emancipation of labour, for the overcoming of alienation, for the affirmation of men as persons would be meaningless. This struggle is possible only because dehumanization, although a concrete historical fact, is not a given destiny but the result of an unjust order that engenders violence in the oppressors, which in turn dehumanizes the oppressed.
Because it is a distortion of being more fully human, sooner or later being less human leads the oppressed to struggle against those who made them so. In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both.
2 See Said, E Culture and Imperialism (NY: Knopf, 1993) 230.
For instance, see The Coolongatta Statement on Indigenous Rights in Education in World Indigenous Peoples' Conference on Education Programme (1999) 20 where it states in the preamble that: 'Almost all Indigenous peoples, and in particular, those who have suffered the impact and effects of colonization, have struggled to access education that acknowledges, respects and promotes the right of Indigenous people to be Indigenous.'
2001 Resistance and Becoming 115
a shadow side to this political and social strategy, which I also wish to explore. It concerns the set of questions beginning with 'Well, what is a real Maori, anyway?'5 In the context of relationships between Maori and Maori, authenticity claims of one or another's Maoriness simultaneously raise the spectre of those who may not be Maori enough. My interest is in discussing and illuminating the tactics and practices of power in such naming, categorisation and authenticity processes. How do these tactics and practices repeat the founding processes of oppression that characterise colonisation, patriarchy and heteronormativity, although with a difference?6 How do such practices and tactics therefore continue to perpetuate our oppression specifically and the violence' of oppression generally? And finally how can the ramifications of the political and social strategy of identity politics be addressed so as to move beyond such limiting and dehumanising conditions and relationships?
Part three, which explores my interest in political and social strategic identity making, concerns the contradictions, complexities and ambiguities of our actual existence. Theorising or even addressing the
See Meredith, P 'Seeing the "Maori subject": Some discussion points' in Mikaere, A and Milroy, S (eds) Ki Te Ao Marama Tenth Anniversary I lui-a-tau /998 Conference Proceedings of Te Hunga Roia Maori (Hamilton, NZ: Maori Law Society, 2000) 36 for deeper discussion of this issue.
7 Freire (supra n 1) 31-32, where he states that
[wlith the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the product of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation.
Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as people — not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognised.
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contradictions, complexities and ambiguities of those realities has proved difficult for typically 'Western' linear thinking built around binary or dualistic frameworks.8 In particular, the tendency to prioritise race, gender, class or sexuality, or to treat each of them as 'mutually exclusive categories of experience and analysis',9 has been particularly problematic. Partly in response to and partly as an assertion of their and our actual experience, Black feminists and women of colour have been theorising an 'understanding of race, class and gender as simultaneous forces'.'10 This analysis is often referred to as intersectional analysis. I wish to discuss intersectional analysis in terms of its capability to speak to and of the complexities and contradictions of oppressive practices and tactics experienced by, in this case, Maori women, and also in terms of its potential to provide transformative tools in our journey of self-actualisation.
However, while illuminating, an intersectional analysis also presents theoretical and epistemological contradictions and tensions. It is one of the tasks of this weaving to make space to imagine, to create and to dream of new consciousness and new theories which speak to and of
[alt the least, though, we can say that the terms 'minority' and `discourse' are located firmly in a Western dualistic or 'binary' frame which sees the rest of the world as minor, and tries to convince the rest of the world that it is major, usually through force and then through language, even as it claims many of the ideas that we, its 'historical' other, have known and spoken about for so long. For many of us have never conceived of ourselves only as somebody's other.
our lived realities. In this way I hope to bring my own 'small, imperfect stone [of activism] to the pile ... [to contribute it] toward the building of an edifice of hope'."
It is Gloria Anzaldua's vision that:
En unas pocas centurias, the future will belong to the mestiza. Because the future depends on the breaking down of paradigms, it depends on the straddling of two or more cultures. By creating a new mythos — that is, a change in the way we perceive reality, the way we see ourselves and the ways we behave — la mestiza creates a new consciousness.
The work of mestiza consciousness is to break down the subject—object duality that keeps her a prisoner and to show in the flesh and through the images in her work how duality is transcended. The answer to the problem between the white race and the colored, between males and females, lies in healing the split that originates in the very foundation of our lives, our culture, our languages, our thoughts. A massive uprooting of dualistic thinking in the individual and collective consciousness is the beginning of a long struggle, but one that could, in our best hopes, bring us to the end of rape, of violence, of war.12
II: Dismantling the master's house with the master's tools?13
This weaving of various theories and practices of resistance and transformation is offered, somewhat tentatively, to other members of
Walker, A Anything We Love Can Be Saved: A Writer's Activism (NY: Random House, 1997) xxi—xxii.
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oppressed, colonised, subjected groups of `others' in particular. This offering is tentative because, as Te Kawehau Hoskins explains,
as a Maori woman, as an 'insider', it is not easy to speak critically about aspects of your culture, society or cultural practice without providing ammunition to a racist and fearful society, or risking personal attack and exclusion.14
One of the personal attacks most feared by indigenous peoples is the labelling by other 'insiders' as a 'potato' — brown on the outside and white (colonised and/or Pakeha) on the inside. For indigenous women who articulate women-centred arguments of liberation and self-determination, the label 'feminist' is seen by some critics as a further extension of the 'white, colonised, Pakeha' label, as though 'feminism' is a dirty word and symbolic of the worst evils of colonisationis Underpinning this sort of criticism are essentialisee conceptions of
Most generally, the theory that there are ESSENCES. More specifically it is applied to the following, quite distinct beliefs:
(1) that particular things have essences which serve to identify them as the particular things that they are;
(1) that abstract entities or UNIVERSALS exist as well as the instances or exemplifications of them that we meet with in space and time, ie Platonic REALISM;
(1) a thesis (sketched by Locke) in the philosophy of science ... that objects have real essences which are distinct from, but capable of explaining, their observable properties, and that discovery of these real essences is the ultimate goal of scientific investigation.
what a 'real' Maori is or at least should be. But more troubling than that is the effect of this deployment of power, which silences and represses that errant critical voice. In this part I want to explore the effects and strategies of deploying an essentialised identity. I entirely appreciate the efficacy of an essentialised identity in a resistance and reclamation strategy. However, I am concerned with the negative effects of this deployment, such as the alienation/exclusion of those who do not fit this essential identity or do not wish to; the use of this tactic to silence and repress errant members of the group; the perpetuation of a politics of polarisation; and the virtual blanket inversion of claims to racial, ethnic, or cultural superiority. On this last point bell hooks points out that:
Even though Western metaphysical dualism as a paradigmatic philosophical approach provides the 'logical' framework for structures of domination in this society (race, gender, class exploitation), individuals from oppressed and exploited groups internalise this way of thinking, inverting it. For example: some black people may reject the assumptions of white supremacy and replace them with notions of black superiority. Assuming such a standpoint, they may feel threatened by any critical approach that does not reinforce this perspective.I7
This part therefore is written from my experience as an 'insider' who at times, because of my ontology and my lack of culture/tikanga/reo, has become an 'exile'," living on the margins. This is part of the contradictions and tensions of my reality as a Maori woman, takatapui, child-less, political activist living in Aotearoa.
17 hooks, b Yearning: Race, Gender, and Cultural Politics (1990) 8.
18 Said (supra n 2) xxx, where he writes:
... this book is an exile's book. For objective reasons that I had no control
over, I grew up as an Arab with a Western education.
Ever since I can remember,
I have felt that I belonged to both worlds, without being completely of
either one or the other. ...Yet when I say 'exile' I do not mean something
sad or deprived. On the contrary belonging, as it were,
to both sides of the
imperial divide enables you to understand them more easily.
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1. Identity construction — mimicking the tools of oppression
Oppressed, colonised, subjugated cultures or groups in resistance against our oppressors, colonisers, dominant cultures or groups are inevitably engaged in projects of self-determination and reclamation. This is inevitable because a characteristic of subjugation and oppression is the exclusion and/or assimilation of otherness. Ideologically and strategically, these processes of resistance invoke binary logic in the articulation of mutually exclusive, oppositional identities to that of the oppressor. Resistance and conscientisation '9 processes are predicated on, first, seeing the oppression and, second, working to transform it. Therefore, this process requires rejection of the oppression and the oppressor. Further, the relationship of oppression is in part formed, reproduced and reinforced through the perpetuation of socially constructed, exclusive and oppositional identities which construct the `other' as subordinate and inferior and the dominant group as superior.210 Thus it is inevitable that in resisting such constructions, the subjugated would reinforce this paradigm by reframing their difference from the dominant group and inverting the relationships of power that have been imposed. This is a characteristic of any resisted relationship of power. It is the paradox of oppression, and perhaps the paradox of all binaries.
In relation to the binary nature of identity, Edward Said explains, 'it is the case that no identity can ever exist by itself and without an array of opposites, negatives, oppositions' .2' As Maori researcher Paul Meredith argues:
2] Said (supra n 2) 60.
...in understanding the 'Maori subject', we cannot avoid a relational approach as identity is inherently relational. Each of us is constituted by the other; we cannot deliberate or decide without implicating otherness. We are 'Maori' in relation to those who are 'non-Maori', we are 'urban Maori' in relation to those who are 'tribal Maori', we are 'Maori men' in relation to those who are 'Maori women' and so forth. To dismiss the other is to dismiss the self.22
However, are Said's and Meredith's statements on identity as `inherently relational' reflections of that phenomenon, or of our conceptualisation and understanding of that phenomenon? In other words, to what extent does our epistemology and ontology shape our conceptualisation and understanding of identity? If, as I argue in this article, dominant epistemology is grounded in binary logic, then it will follow that identity is conceptualised in those terms, as in Said's and Meredith's statements on identity.
Strategically, the inevitable engagement of the oppressed, colonised and subjugated with resistance projects arises as a result of, and partially in response to,23 the historical and dialectical relationship of oppression.
22 Meredith (supra n 5) 42.
23 Said (supra n 2) at xii explains:
Yet it was the case nearly everywhere in the non-European world that the coming of the white man brought forth some sort of resistance.... Along with armed resistance in places as diverse as nineteenth-century Algeria, Ireland, and Indonesia, there also went considerable ell its in cultural resistance almost everywhere, the assertions of nationalist identities, and, in the political realm, the creation of associations and parties whose common goal was self-determination and national independence. Never was it the case that the imperial encounter pitted an active Western intruder against a supine or inert non-Western native; there was always some form of active resistance and, in the overwhelming majority of cases, the resistance finally won out.
I use this quote here from Said to illustrate the significant role of
resistance practices; however, as Gay Morgan pointed out in
her helpful comments
on this article, it is questionable whether the resisting non-Western native did
win in a deeper sense. For
instance, was transformation achieved or merely the
indigenisation of colonial institutions?
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Part of the hegemonic24 ideology that perpetuates these relationships of oppression is attributable to the deployment of tactics of power whereby the 'oppressor' gets to construct his/her 'other' in what Johnson and Pihama explain are 'oppositional localities of inferiority':
Historically, and unfortunately in contemporary times as well, Maori women are constructed in oppositional localities of inferiority which do not serve our interests. We recognise the complexities of these constructions in that our position is not just defined in terms of dualities associated with Pakeha men, but also in terms of the dualities associated with Pakeha women and Maori men.25
Referring to Iris Marion Young, Johnson and Pihama explain that the significance of this construction process is that it turns difference into exclusion:
The attempt to reduce all persons to the unity of common measure constructs as deviant those whose attributes differ from the group-specific attributes implicitly presumed in the norm. The drive to unify the particularity and multiplicity of practices, cultural symbols, and ways of relating in clear and distinct categories turns difference into exclusion.26
The effect of this conceptualisation is to legitimate the perpetuation of material, legal and symbolic violence against the deviant, barbaric
24 Bullock et al (supra n 16) at 379 explains that hegemony
is used to denote the predominance of one social CLASS over others, e.g. in the term bourgeois hegemony. The feature which this usage stresses is not only the political and economic control exercised by a dominant class but its success in projecting its own particular way of seeing the world, human and social relationships, so that this is accepted as 'COMMON SENSE' and part of the natural order by those who are in fact subordinated to it. From this it follows that REVOLUTION is seen not only as the transfer of political and economic POWER but as the creation of an alternative hegemony through new forms of experience and CONSCIOUSNESS. This is different from the more familiar Marxist view that change in the economic base is what matters and that change in the SUPERSTRUCTURE is a reflection of this; instead, the struggle for hegemony is seen as a primary and even decisive factor in radical change, including change in the economic base itself.
25 Johnson and Pihama (supra n 20) 75.
26 Ibid, 77.
others. This is evident in the peculiar historic justification of slavery of African people;" the legal justification for finding that the Treaty of Waitangi was a nullity;" and the current refusal by the New Zealand courts and state to permit same-sex marriage,29 which effectively continues to sanction the negative stigmatisation of takatapui, lesbian and gay people.1°
I want to add here that I am fully sympathetic to and largely in agreement with Johnson and Pihama's arguments and will return to them later. My discussion builds upon their analysis and attempts to turn the focus away from the coloniser's or oppressor's constructions of us, to our utilisation of those same strategies in our resistance projects, which ultimately result in difference being turned into exclusion from within the subjugated/oppressed groups themselves.
Binary logic of oppositional localities is being deployed in the resistance strategy of building Maori nationalism partially in response to our relationship of oppression with Pakeha colonisers. Mason Dune points out that the emergence of a collective national Maori identity since the early mid-nineteenth century was 'a product of several forces:
28 Wi Parata v Bishop of Wellington (1877) 3 NZ JUR (NS) SC 72, 77-79.
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colonisation, Christian conversion, an emerging sense of Maori nationalism, and immigration with a rapid reversal of population dominance.'3'
And as Paul Meredith explains, the strategic deployment of a 'Maori' identity was utilised to resist the forces of colonisation:
[i]n the face of the external threat of land alienation and political disenfranchisement 'Maori' sought solidarity in political and religious movements constructed around a notion of pan-`Maori' identity and common ethnicity.32
This strategy of building an oppositional identity of 'Maori' nationalism is a necessary and inevitable response to the violence of colonisation.
As Johnson and Pihama note:
Dominant group interests have been served in the perpetuation of such relations and therefore have benefited from the maintenance of discourses which associate 'difference' and 'other' with inferiority. As previously noted, how 'difference' is constructed, how it is defined and how it is used in given situations is both contested and challenged. For Maori women that includes the inverting of dominant discourses, the assertion of our own definitions as opposed to those constructed outside of us, and the re-presentation of our realities through analyses in which we are at the centre.33
What I find interesting about this discussion and these practices isn't the actual deployment of these strategies; it is the development of my and our consciousness that in the deployment of such strategies, while understandable, and to some extent necessary to our reclamation process and resistance strategies, we are engaging in the perpetuation of the tactics and practices of power that were and are still utilised against us in the process of colonisation, albeit with a difference. The
32 Meredith (supra n 5) at n 4.
33 Johnson and Pihama (supra n 20) 86.
difference in this case is that we, the 'oppressed' are deploying these strategies in opposition/resistance to our oppressors, and also in relation to members of our own subjugated/oppressed collectivities. This practice is aptly reflected in Audre Lorde's almost prophetic epithet:
For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.34
I directly address the requirement for new consciousness in the third part of this article, He ara hou.
2. Turning difference into exclusion
The other issue that concerns me about the strategy of deploying an essentialised 'Maori' identity is its uncritical use as a tool of exclusion. Paul Meredith discusses the utilisation of essentialism in serving 'an internal polemic cultural politics'." He notes that:
This is particularly evident among those cultural nationalists who have at times separated the 'Maori' subject under conflicting categories of the 'authentic Maori' (`tuturu Maori') and the `inauthentic Maori' (`riwai Maori' ),36 or the race loyalists (kaupapa Maori) and the disloyalists (`kupapa Maori' )37 in their attempt to police the cultural boundaries, purify the impure and decolonise the colonised.38
bell hooks also discusses this phenomenon when she notes that:
Assertions of identity that bring complexity and variety to constructions of black subjectivity are often negated by conservative
34 Lorde, supra n 13.
35 Meredith (supra n 5) 39.
on the Government side during the New Zealand wars of the 1860s.'
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policing forces — that is, black people who dismiss differences among us by labelling some folks black and others not.39
In a draft paper on human rights and women's rights, Stephanie Milroy discusses her evolving view about Maori women speaking on the marae and then asks:
In taking the view that the prohibition against speaking on the marae by women is oppressive of Maori women have I, and others like me, simply been colonised by a Pakeha world-view of what the rights of women are?40
My answer to this perennial question is that: YES, all Maori have been colonised. One hundred and sixty-two years after the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi, in a geographically small country like Aotearoa, it is virtually impossible to locate a Maori or Pakeha person who has not been affected and who does not continue to be affected directly and indirectly by colonisation. It is therefore sadly ironic that this sort of attack is levelled at 'colonised Maori' by other 'colonised Maori'. Despite our conscious resistance to colonisation, despite our political commitment to self-determination, to te tino rangatiratanga mo nga iwi Maori, despite our struggle to learn and practice te reo Maori me nga tikanga, YES, we are every one of us colonised. So how can any one of us throw that stone at another?
This practice of constructing 'the' authentic Maori and of identifying the essences of the authentic 'Maori' is essentialism at its worst. This
39 hooks (supra n 17) 20.
The speaking rights of women on the marae is one of the most
misunderstood and abused contemporary issues of our culture and time.
those engaged in the debate, and identified as 'on the Pakeha side', have been
accused of trying to analyse Maori culture
in Pakeha terms, in order to give the
colonization of our culture and people a twentieth century face, in the name of
equality of rights. Those 'on the Maori side' claim that Pakeha
ideas have been used to make observations and judgements about the
with little or no attempt to reconcile the different epistemological bases of
the two cultures.
is not to reject essentialism in total. Identity politics and the reconstruction of our identities and self-definition is, as Johnson and Pihama argue, a necessary part of the process of healing and reclaiming our humanity that was stripped from us as a result of the violence' that was and is perpetrated against us in the name of colonisation:
For Maori women in a colonial setting (we avoid using the term post-colonial as we believe that this country remains very much colonial) much of our 'selves' has been denied. Therefore for many Maori women there is an ongoing struggle to centre ourselves, to
41 Freire (supra n 1) at 31 explains:
Any situation in which A objectively exploits B or hinders his pursuit of self-affirmation as a responsible person is one of oppression. Such a situation in itself constitutes violence, even when sweetened by false generosity, because it interferes with man's ontological and historical vocation to be more fully human. With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the product of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation.
Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as people — not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognised. It is not the unloved who cause disaffection, but those who cannot love because they love only themselves. It is not the helpless, subject to terror, who initiate terror, but the violent, who with their power create the concrete situation which begets the 'rejects of life'. It is not the tyrannized who are the source of despotism, but the tyrants; nor the despised who initiate hatred, but those who despise. It is not those whose humanity is denied them who negate man, but those who denied that humanity (thus negating their own as well). Force is used not by those who have become weak under the preponderance of the strong, but by the strong who have emasculated them.
The forms of violence that colonisation in Aotearoa has taken include
development of policy and law which: prevented Maori from speaking
languages and breastfeeding their babies; confiscated Maori land; and
deliberately set out to undermine Maori social and political
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deconstruct colonial representations, and to reconstruct and reclaim knowledge about ourselves.42
For Johnson and Pihama this reconstruction and centring process involves 'cultural constructions of identity'.43 For them, as Maori women, that means:
we each have a relationship to the land; we are each connected to mana whenua. As Maori women we have a relationship to spirituality, mana wairua. As Maori women we are located in complex relationships within whakapapa, mana tangata. Each of these aspects of tikanga Maori is a part of who we are as Maori women, whether or not we experience them in our day-to-day realities, as they originate from historical and cultural sources that both precede and succeed us. The complexities of such relationships extend into whanau, hapu and iwi, so no single expression is the `one'; all of them may, and do, find a range of expressions. Hence, what may be viewed as an essence in cultural terms does not, in our terms, equate to essentialism. Rather, it expresses the historical and social construction of cultural relationships.'
What is not explicitly apparent from Johnson and Pihama's analysis is whether the specific experiences they recalled form the parameters, the boundaries, of Maori identity. While they acknowledge that Maori women, like any cultural group, are not homogeneous, and that any assertion that they were so would be essentialist, they provide a list of experiences that they have as Maori women, for instance relationships to the land, to spirituality, and within whakapapa. In using the pronoun `we' Johnson and Pihama are clearly and specifically speaking from their own experiences. However, the specific 'we' seems to evolve into a more generalised 'we Maori women' in their statement that `[e]ach of these aspects of tikanga Maori is a part of who we are as Maori women, whether or not we experience them in our day-to-day realities, as they originate from historical and cultural sources that both precede and succeed us.' Their assertion that each of those aspects of
42 Johnson and Pihama (supra n 20) 84.
44 Ibid, 84-85.
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tikanga Maori is part of who they are as Maori women becomes, in the next part of the sentence, an assertion that those aspects are part of all Maori women 'whether or not we [here read in the general "we Maori women"] experience them in our day-to-day realities ...'. This analysis raises another set of questions — such as whether I am Ngatihine if I `don't know' that I am. Is there a biological essence here and not only a cultural essence? Johnson and Pihama explain that while this may seem to be cultural essentialism, it is instead an expression of the historical and social construction of cultural relationships.
Johnson and Pihama later acknowledge in discussing Kathie Irwin's work45 that:
Maori women are not a homogenous group. There is no model of what it is to he a 'real' or 'acceptable' Maori woman. That, we believe, would he essentialism in practice. ... We are different, and those differences count. There are a number of factors that influence the life experiences of Maori women, and these diverse factors arc a part of the diverse experiences which Maori women articulate. In seeking to make our differences visible and to create space for Maori women's stories, opinions and voices to he heard, we must provide forms of analysis which ensure that issues of race, class and gender are incorporated, and their intersection engaged with.'
So here Johnson and Pihama compare their historical and cultural construction of identity to a 'real' or 'acceptable' homogenous Maori woman's identity to illustrate the essentialism of the latter. While I appreciate the distinction that they are making here, I believe that Johnson and Pihama's analysis reflects a comparison of a set of socially and historically determined cultural practices, any combination of which may constitute a Maori woman's identity, with only one combination which reflects the predetermined culturally 'real' or `acceptable' Maori woman. In other words, from my reading of their analysis, the distinction is between one or many possible historically and socially determined cultural constructions of a Maori woman's identity. Both practices are potentially limiting as they both reduce the complexity, the ambiguity, and the contradictions of Maori women's
45 Irwin, supra n 40.
46 Johnson and Pihama (supra n 20) X5.
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identity to cultural constructions that are determined by history and society. Johnson and Pihama also point out that `[e]ach of these aspects of tikanga Maori is a part of who we are as Maori women, whether or not we experience them in our day-to-day realities, as they originate from historical and cultural sources that both precede and succeed us.' 47 While I appreciate and understand the epistemological and ontological basis for this assertion, how does this discussion take account of the experiences of Maori women who: do not have a relationship to the land; do not have a relationship to spirituality, mana wairua; do not locate themselves or have not been located in complex relationships within whakapapa; or do not validate — and may even denigrate — te reo me nga tikanga Maori?" Further, how does this discussion take account of Maori women who do not want to have those relationships?
While it is tempting to avoid essentialist practices by asserting or providing a range of options within which or from which Maori women's identity may be reconstructed, the act of prescription may simultaneously be an act of restriction/limitation which perpetuates the practice of oppositional localities whereby those Maori women who fit within one or some of the prescripts are included and those who do not are excluded. Regardless, both practices have the final result/outcome of turning difference into exclusion.
Why is this? My view is that adopting and/or utilising a practice of identity construction built on binary logic inevitably turns difference into exclusion. This effect is endemic and inherent in the notion that identity construction is relational and thus binary.49 The effect is not ameliorated or transformed by processes of inversion, reclamation or resistance by oppressed groups such as Maori women. Instead the process and its negative effects are perpetuated and reinforced, this time, by the very oppressed groups who were subjected to such oppressive and disempowering practices and tactics originally. But
Ibid. Johnson and Pihama then assert that ' [c]ritical to Maori women's frameworks is the validation of te reo me nga tikanga Maori, and in particular the reassertion of the status of Maori women within a Maori context and wider society generally.'
Said and Meredith (supra n 21 and 22) and accompanying text.
this time, those oppressed groups are perpetuating such tactics against even more disempowered groups, that is, Maori women whose identity as Maori is contested.
My purposes in focussing upon this issue are, first, to highlight the negative effects of uncritical acceptance and utilisation of such notions of identity and ways of 'becoming' and, second, to make space to envision new, different and alternative epistemology and ontology which do not have the final result/outcome of turning difference into exclusion and thus perpetuating oppressive tactics and practices or relationships of power.
The deployment of these practices is a further example of how we are repeating, albeit with a difference, the practices and tactics of colonisation which, as Johnson and Pihama have identified, turned difference into exclusion. The difference is that we are doing it to each other. Papusa Molina, a Mexican woman living in the United States of America, discusses this phenomenon and points out:
Another qualitative change consists in looking at every human being — including ourselves — as victims and perpetrators of oppression. Because we live in a society that emphasizes a dichotomous world view, we live our lives making either—or choices, labelling each other by opposition and dividing the planet into good and bad, black and white, yes and no. Everything around us tells us that in order to affirm who we are, we need to negate the other or define it as the opposite. I think that especially as people of color, we have a hard time seeing ourselves as oppressors. Because we look at ourselves in just one dimension — race — we aren't aware of the many times we also participate and, with our daily actions, maintain a system that distributes rewards based on gender, age, class, sexual orientation, religious/cultural background, physical and mental ability, etc, etc, etc. It is only recently that some feminists have at least started asking for an analysis based on gender, sexuality, class and race. However, we are very quick to blame the white, upper class, Christian, heterosexual, able-bodied man as the Oppressor with capital 0. I think it is important that we start assuming some responsibility for our contribution to this patriarchal, imperialist system which ends up oppressing most of us.5°
50 Molina, P 'Recognizing, accepting and celebrating our differences' in
Anzaldua, G (ed) Making Face, Making Soul — Haciendo Caras: Creative
and Critical Perspectives by Women of Color (1990) 330.
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I think Molina accurately depicts the contradictions and tensions of our colonised and oppressed realities. In utilising practices and tactics of power to exclude, suppress, and silence others, how do our actions perpetuate the practices and tactics of power of colonisation/ imperialism? Yes, we may be colonised and oppressed, but is that an excuse or justification for our ongoing, conscious exercise of the same oppressive practices and tactics? The point of asking these questions and exploring these issues is to encourage critical inquiry into our own practices, so that in our evolving consciousness, we may contribute to the development of what Gloria Anzaldua describes as 'new consciousness', new ways of being, or relating which are inclusive and not exclusive, which are respectful, and which lead to the acceptance and the celebration of our differences and our uniqueness.
III: He ara hou
The final part of this weaving is a response, my response to the mute, reverberating karanga from the many silenced, muted, repressed, colonised, oppressed, excluded 'others' who, as a result of the practice of identity construction built on binary logic which inevitably turns difference into exclusion, are positioned at the margins. This response is also simultaneously my karanga from those margins, from exile, from my 'othered' spaces. This is not to disclaim the positions of privilege that I occupy as a result of my education, income and occupation, but in this moment of foregrounding the practices and tactics of oppression that silence and exclude, I am also speaking from my own personal experience and engagement with these political struggles as well, and not just as some disconnected, distant observer.
From the previous part of this weaving, the karanga of the excluded `others'
have identified the practices and tactics of exclusion
and highlighted the
transformative possibilities of creating new pathways, new tools, new
consciousness, new analyses, new theories
which celebrate and accept our
differences. In this part I want to traverse the potential of these new
possibilities to transform
the practices and tactics of oppression. I also want
to explore the useful deployment of these new possibilities in our relationships
with `others'. I will discuss the possibilities of: first, conceptualising
identity as unstable, contested, contestable, contradictory
and responsive to
social and historical
constructions and contexts; second, developing analytical tools that address the realities and complexity of our experiences of the simultaneous operation of oppressive practices and tactics that differentiate between people on the basis of their race, class, gender and sexuality,51 and their intersection;" and third, transforming the basis of our relationships with our historically constructed 'others' from a hierarchical, oppositional, oppressive, object—subject, subjugated relationship into one which is based on mutual acceptance, respect and, dare I say, trust.
1. Reconceptualising identity
There has been a lot of theoretical work undertaken by feminists" and other critical theorists" on the project of reconceptualising or retheorising identity construction. In a feminist context, the critical transformation that has developed is that
[r]ather than understanding 'women' as [a] reconstituted identity, or even identities, [some New Zealand feminist academics] explore the notion that women are multiply organised subjects whose
52 This is a course recommended by Johnson and Pihama, see supra n 20 at 85.
134 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vol 5
identities are actively created and recreated in response to contested political, economic and social power relations.55
Implicit in this understanding of identity are a rejection of essentialism, and the promotion of social constructionism.56 However, as Lamer explains, while the 'subject' of this form of theorising identity/ difference is not fixed, nor is it 'the perpetually deferred subject of poststructuralism in which identity can never be grasped and so cannot be used as a site of resistance' .57 In this model of identity, Lamer argues, `because these non-essentialist identities can be strategically used in order to ground claims for a feminist practice, agency can be exercised'.58 However, like the 'subject' herself, the form of agency that is exercisable is 'born of history and geography and anchored in the history of specific struggles (Mohanty, 1991: 37). Sandoval (1991: 11)'.59 Lamer explains it in this way:
Any social order which is hierarchically organised into relations of domination and subordination creates particular subject positions within which the subordinated can legitimately function. These subject positions, once self-consciously recognised by their inhabitants, can become transformed into more effective sites of resistance to the current ordering of power relations.6°
Seuffert and Davies describe this theoretical development of postmodern identity politics in the following terms:
Anti-essentialists, or postmodern social constructionists, reject essentialism in any of its forms, arguing instead that identity is constructed relationally through complex and sometimes contradictory discursive practices. As subjects, we can only know ourselves through interaction and contrast with other subjects: 'The
55 Lamer (supra n 53) 160.
57 Supra n 55 at 161.
58 Ibid, 162.
59 As cited in Lamer, W (supra n 53) 162.
body is "always already" culturally mapped; it never exists in a pure or uncoded state.'6I 'Cultural mapping' refers to the ways in which messages produced by the culture in which we live constitute who we are. All identities are socially constructed in complex interactions played out through various discourses including law, the media, the arts and politics.62
Seuffert and Davies' notion of the body being —always already" culturally mapped' is strikingly similar to Johnson and Pihama's notion that whether we, as Maori women, experience aspects of tikanga Maori in our day-to-day realities or not, they are 'a part of who we are as Maori women ... as they originate from historical and cultural sources that both precede and succeed us.'63
One of the possibilities of this ideology of identity construction is that it more genuinely reflects the complexities, contradictions and tensions of identity formation and identity politics while still enabling strategic resistance. However what strikes me about this theoretical development is its ideological and thus practical limitations. Grounded in Western epistemology which is acknowledged by Davies and Seuffert explicitly,64 this theory of postmodern identity politics attempts to move beyond the limitations of an identity politics based on a weak essentialism or on a unified stable 'subject' by rejecting essentialism and fully embracing social constructionism. While I have some intellectual empathy for this particular repositioning of identity formation within a social constructionist analysis, I am not convinced that this new theorisation of identity and identity politics radically transforms the Western practice of identity construction built on binary logic, which inevitably turns difference into exclusion. Nor does it assist in the development of new ways of `becoming'; as to build such a strategy from Western epistemology is to be forever determined by the dominant hegemonic ideology. This course also needs to be resisted. It is a radical transformation of Western epistemological frameworks
61 Seuffert and Davies (supra n 56) 281 at n 140.
62 Ibid, 281.
63 Johnson and Pihama, supra n 47 and accompanying text.
64 Seuffert and Davies (supra n 56) 288.
136 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vol 5
that is required to transform the oppressive practices and tactics that have been deployed in the processes of imperialism, cultural nationalism, patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality.
My concern about the theoretical limitations of social constructionism is that at its heart it is still a model of identity construction that is based in and perpetuates binary logic and dichotomies. For instance, Larner's discussion of the subject who, once they recognise it, can transform their subject position 'into more effective sites of resistance to the current ordering of power relations'" is based on a construction of the social order as hierarchically organised into relations of domination and subordination. This construction of the social order reflects binary logic and dichotomies. Therefore I suggest that identity construction within this construction of the social order will also reflect binary logic and dichotomies.
The presence of binary logic and dichotomies is more evident in Davies and Seuffert's discussion of postmodern social constructionists who, they state, argue that 'identity is constructed relationally' and that `[a]s subjects, we can only know ourselves through interaction and contrast with other subjects'.` This statement relocates identity formation in the Western epistemological binary framework of one's relationship with another subject, similar to the explanation provided by Johnson and Pihama, who in terms of Davies' and Seuffert' s analysis, deploy a model of identity politics based on weak essentialism.`'' What is interesting to me about this is how each of these ideologies suffers from what I term 'epistemological pathology'. Conceptually, the binary framework posited by Western epistemology is inherently limiting and restrictive as it categorises, prioritises and pathologises in terms of a simplistic either/or model. Postmodern identity politics, like weak essentialism, shifts or removes the parameters of each side of the dichotomy while imputing agency and therefore power to the either/or model. Essentially, the practices and tactics implicit in the binary framework are repeated, albeit with a difference in each of these models.
65 Larner, supra n 60.
66 Seuffert and Davies (supra n 56) 281.
67 Ibid, 277-281.
2001 Resistance and Becoming 137
This repetition, I argue, evidences the presence of the same binary framework. In relation to the logic of repetition in the context of law, Margaret Davies explains that 'it is, after all, central to the notion of repetition that something of the same recurs, otherwise it would not be repetition at all'.68
2. The possibilities of intersectionality theory
Intersectionality theory has been the 'conceptual anchor of recent Black feminist theorizing'69 which is concerned with 'the understanding of race, class and gender as simultaneous forces' .710 Rose Brewer describes the major propositions of an exploration of the simultaneity of oppression as including:
critiquing dichotomous oppositional thinking by employing both/ and rather than either/or categorizations
allowing for the simultaneity of oppression and struggle, thus eschewing additive analyses: race + class + gender
which leads to an understanding of the embeddedness and relationality of race, class and gender and the multiplicative nature of these relationships: race x class x gender
reconstructing the lived experiences, historical positioning, cultural perceptions and social construction of Black women who arc enmeshed in and whose ideas emerge out of that experience, and
developing a feminism rooted in class, culture, gender and race in interaction as its organizing principle.
Importantly, the theorizing about race, class and gender is historicized and contextualizedru
6X Davies, M Delimiting the Law: 'Postmodernism' and the Mlitics a/ Law (London: Pluto Press, 1996) 109.
69 Brewer, supra n 10.
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Kimberle Crenshaw explains the relevance and utility of intersectionality theorising in the following terms:
The particular experience of black women in the dominant cultural ideology of American society can be conceptualised as intersectional. Intersectionality captures the way in which the particular location of black women in dominant American social relations is unique and in some senses unassimilable into the discursive paradigms of gender and race domination. One commonly noted aspect of this location is that black women are in a sense doubly burdened, subject in some ways to the dominating practices of both a sexual hierarchy and a racial one. In addition to this added dimension, intersectionality also refers to the ways that black women's marginalisation within dominant discourses of resistance limits the means available to relate and conceptualise our experiences as black women.72
These analyses of intersectionality theory highlight its reconceptualisation of the oppressive practices of race, class and gender as a multi-faceted product of these elements, rather than as additive. This is evident in Brewer's notion of the 'multiplicative nature of these relationships: race x class x gender'73 and in Crenshaw's reference to the double burden that black women are subjected to as a result of the operation of race and gender hierarchies.74 Like postmodern identity politics as discussed in the previous section, intersectionality theory is a useful tool for illuminating the unique experience of, in this case, black women because it attempts to reflect the specific realities and experiences of black women rather than a generalised, essentialised conception of black experience plus women's experience. However I argue that, like postmodern identity politics, intersectionality theory,
72 Crenshaw K 'Whose story is it anyway? Feminist and antiracist appropriations of Anita Hill' in Morrison, T (ed) Race-ing Justice, Engendering Power — Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality (NY: Pantheon Books, 1992) 403-404.
73 Brewer, supra n 10.
74 Crenshaw, supra n 72.
while useful as one of the set of tools used to rattle dominant normative hegemony in developing the self-actualised 'other', fails to inspire transformative models, theories and practices.
Intersectionality theory, although developed by black women and other theorists critical of any dominant hegemony, builds upon existing constructions and theories of the operation of race, class, and gender hierarchies. It extends analysis of the operation of those hierarchies beyond a simplistic additive model of race + class + gender to an analysis which posits a multiplicative model. It posits the simultaneous operation of these hierarchies for the relevant subject — a black woman; a black, poor woman; a black, poor lesbian — as reflecting and as speaking to the unique and specific experiences of those subjects. Intersectionality theorists argue that the unique experience of a black woman is not reducible to the monolithic woman's experience plus the monolithic black (man's) experience, and nor is the theorising of those experiences so reducible.
This theory has the potential to reflect the complexities, contradictions and tensions of the simultaneous operation of those categories of oppressive practices. As such, it is part of the set of theoretical tools that may be usefully deployed in resistance and self-actualisation projects. However, I am perplexed by the attempt to build a self-actualising and reflexive theory of our complex and contradictory realities from the dichotomous, boundary-laden, fixed, and ordered analyses of the oppressive operations of race, gender and class. Here I am making an assumption that intersectionality theory is not only a theory of our oppression — although maybe it is, and therefore my perplexity is answered — but that it is also a theory of our lives, of the rich potentiality of our lives. My concern is that it is not only the oppressive practices of racism, sexism and classism that maintain and perpetuate relationships of power. But at a different level of experience, at the ontological and epistemological level, how we analyse and understand these specific experiences of racism, sexism and classism is also enmeshed with boundary and restriction, and hence limiting.
While both postmodern identity politics and intersectionality theory offer
new possibilities of reconceptualising and retheorising
our identity, identity
politics and our unique experiences, these possibilities are in both cases
epistemologically and ontologically
limited by Western epistemology's
narcissistic75 tendencies. By this I am referring to
140 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vol 5
totalising and universalising nature not only of the ideological constructions of identity formation, but also of Western epistemology itself.76 One difficulty for us, as 'others' who are traversing the theoretical possibilities of building a self-actualised, reflexive theory of our own rich lives, is the dominant hegemonic nature of Western epistemology. Another difficulty is carving out space from our resistance projects, where we are locked into models of engagement with the 'other', to imagine, to dream, to create, out of our own epistemologies and practices, new transformative theory that is neither based on nor made in response to the oppressive practices of Western epistemology. The next and final section tentatively explores possibilities for such a new transformative theory.
3. Beyond Western epistemology
bell hooks tells a story about how she conceives of the creative possibilities necessary for transformation. She writes:
I often begin courses which focus on African-American literature, and sometimes specifically black women writers, with a declaration by Paulo Freire which had a profound liberatory effect on my thinking 'We cannot enter the struggle as objects in order to later become subjects.' This statement compels reflection on how the dominated, the oppressed, the exploited make ourselves subject. How do we create an oppositional worldview, a consciousness, an identity, a standpoint that exists not only as that struggle which also opposes dehumanisation but as that movement which enables creative, expansive self-actualization? Opposition is not enough. In that vacant space after one has resisted there is still the necessity to become — to make oneself anew. Resistance is that struggle we can most easily grasp. ... There is an inner uprising that leads to rebellion, however short-lived. It may be only momentary but it
76 For further discussion about the Enlightenment and epistemological universalism and truth claims see Smith, LT Decolonising Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples (Dunedin, NZ: University of Otago Press, 1999) 58-77; Seuffert and Davies, supra n 56; Battiste, M (ed) Reclaiming Indigenous Voice and Vision (2000); Battiste, M and Youngblood Henderson,
J Protecting Indigenous Knowledge and Heritage — A Global Challenge (Saskatoon: Purich Publishing, 2000).
takes place. That space within oneself where resistance is possible remains. It is different then to talk about becoming subjects. That process emerges as one comes to understand how structures of domination work in one's own life, as one develops critical thinking and critical consciousness, as one invents new, alternative habits of being, and resists from that marginal space of difference inwardly defined.77
This profound analysis of the dual process of becoming a subject is what I am referring to as the creative possibilities required for transformation. Not only must we resist dehumanisation, but we must also make ourselves anew. As hooks argues, `[o]ppostion is not enough'. She also explains that this process of 'creative, expansive self-actualization'78 emerges as one
comes to understand how structures of domination work in one's own life,
develops critical thinking and critical consciousness,
invents new, alternative habits of being, and
resists from that marginal space of difference inwardly defined.79
From a feminist perspective, Margaret Davies offers insights into the creative possibilities beyond the limitations of this theoretical construction. She argues that:
Although deconstruction teaches that we may not be able to think, theorise, or express an outside or absolute alterity, it is none the less important for feminists to attempt to imagine it — at some point to refuse negotiation in favour of separation (lesbian separatism being only the most obvious form) or of the thought of some unimaginable other.8°
77 hooks (supra n 17) 15.
80 Davies (supra n 68) 16.
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I would add that this epistemological limitation imposed by deconstruction theory is yet another reflection of Western epistemology's narcissism. One then can't help but wonder about the purpose of this practice of narcissism that pervades Western epistemology. It seems strangely like the practice of Christianity, which posits that there can be only one god, or Austinian conceptions of sovereignty, which posit that there can be only one sovereign. The effect of those practices for indigenous peoples worldwide was and continues to be genocidal.
To summarise, my substantive criticisms are of the binary determinism that constructs identity formation and identity politics in Western epistemology, whether the ideology concerns fixed identities or social constructionism. Both ideologies suffer from the same epistemological pathology of being determined by binaries. My further criticism is of what I refer to as Western epistemology's narcissism. For instance, the Western epistemological construction of identity as the relationship between 'I' the superior 'subject' and 'Other' the inferior 'object' —which is at the core of both the fixed identity ideology and social constructionism — mirrors the relationships constructed by Western epistemology between it and any other epistemologies. That is, Western epistemology has constructed itself as 'I' the 'subject' in relation to all its inferior, 'Other' epistemologies. In the context of Western epistemology's dominant hegemony, the effect of this narcissistic self-construction is to universalise and totalise this epistemology.
In attempting to confront these limitations of Western epistemology, I am guided to Maori epistemology, Maori whakaaro, Maori tikanga, Maori philosophy. Part of the contradictions of my colonised reality is that I am attempting to access this consciousness in the language of my coloniser. As such, I fully acknowledge the limitations of this journey. However, equally, as an uri o Ngatihine me Ngapuhi, I acknowledge what I understand to be my obligation, responsibility and life purpose to bring my own imperfect stone of activism to the pile to build an edifice of hope.
One of the distinguishing features of Maori philosophy is the notion of collectivity. Moana Jackson points out in relation to Maori law that:
The institutions or processes of the law which grew out of the jurisprudence sought to give practical expression to the notions of
collectivity which underpinned and were the base of all Maori thinking.81
This theme of collectivity is evident in particular in the social structure of Maori society around three interrelated parts — iwi, hapu and whanau.82 It was also evident to the colonisers who recognised the potential threat to their epistemology and colonising project posed by the notions of collectivity that underpinned all Maori thinking. For instance, in 1870 Henry Sewell, the Minister of Justice, explained that the object of the 1865 Native Lands Act was:
The detribalisation of the Maoris, to destroy ... the principle of communism ... upon which their social system was based, and which stood as a barrier in the way of all attempts to amalgamate the Maori race into our social and political system ... 83
This collectivity which underpins Maori epistemology contrasts sharply with the individualism that characterises Western epistemology and its construction of identity formation in terms of the dichotomous 'I' the superior 'subject' and 'other' the inferior 'object'.
A further distinguishing feature of Maori epistemology and philosophy is the notion of balance. Many Maori" have highlighted the centrality of this notion of balance in to ao Maori. As Ani Mikaere explains:
Central to the operation of th[e] everyday framework [of Maori life] was the imperative to maintain balance: balance within the
82 Ibid, n 3.
83 NZPD Vol 9, 1870:361.
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whanau and hapu, balance between people and the environment, and the internal balance of each and every individual within the group. The institutions of tapu and noa were integral to the complex of daily life as they ensured the preservation of spiritual balance, which was essential to the survival and well-being for the community.85
Ani Mikaere highlights the imperative nature of this notion of balance to te ao Maori. Along the journey and amongst the weaving of this paper, I have inevitably been pondering in a deep metaphysical sense about what is an antidote to Western epistemology's narcissistic, universalising, dichotomising pathology. Not that I consider for a moment that my response or any response will be definitive or that the effect of that response will be immediate relief. I understand and accept that liberation is a journey, a process and not a destination. In my pondering, these key notions in te ao Maori of collectivity and balance have continued to emerge as sources of possibility for such an antidote. However, in dropping deeper into this epistemological cavern, I am struck by the interrelatedness and interconnectedness of these two key notions of collectivity and balance and of other key concepts such as manaaki, aroha, paiheretangata, tuhonohono and paharakeke," mana, tapu, noa, whakapapa, tika, he, utu and whanaungatanga." Ontologically, te ao Maori is characterised by this interrelatedness and interconnectedness. It pervades, acts upon and shapes the philosophy, the law, the tikanga, the social structures, the language and the people of te ao Maori. For instance, whakapapa is understood as connecting members of specific whanau, hapu and iwi, but also connecting those humans to the gods and to the environment."" This reflects the ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness to which I am referring. A further example is evident in te reo Maori. For instance, the words whanau, hapu and iwi are understood as referring to the three-tier social
85 Mikaere (supra n 84) 21.
86 Jackson (supra n 81) 247.
structure of Maori society. However, those words also have other significant meanings as follows: whanau — to give birth; hapu — to be pregnant; iwi — refers to bones, and people. The utilisation of these words to denote the fundamental social structure of Maori society as well as to refer to the life-generating processes and supporting structures is again an illustration of the interrelated and interconnected ontology of te ao Maori.
According to Manuka Henare:
The Maori does not and never has accepted the mechanistic view of the universe which regards it as a closed system into which nothing can impinge from without. Western concepts which distinguish between the sacred and the world of the profane and talk of dichotomies between human and natural do not fit easily into the Maori world view.89
The possibilities for a liberatory journey of an ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness are significant. This ontology concerns connections and relations. As such, the context within which this ontology is developed is important. In te ao Maori, recognising and respecting the inherent mana of all people, living things and the gods is fundamental. That context is significant for the development of an ontology based on interrelatedness and interconnectedness. Further, the purpose or aim of such ontology is critical. In terms of a liberatory journey, the purpose or aim of an ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness is that all collectives and their members should he able to live fully, purposefully and meaningfully and to flourish. Thus the practices, politics and epistemology that flow from an ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness will he directed to these purposes. This ontology is in direct opposition to Hohhes's ideology of humanity as a state of nature, 'with men engaged in a constant struggle for power and scarce resources [which] suggested innate antisocial tendencies'.' However, as Barbara Goodwin explains, while
I 'liberal theorists (of whom Hobbes was a forerunner in some other respects) rejected this conclusion, (they! did not, however, assume
89 lienare, supra n 87.
9() Goodwin, 13 Using Political Ideas (NY: Wiley, 1987) 36.
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natural sociability. The assumption is rather that men are 'mutually indifferent' because of their free, independent nature.91
The purpose of this ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness also simultaneously provides guidelines as to its limitations and clearly there will have to be some balancing between competing interests. However, the way those interests are conceived and progressed will be vastly different under this ontology. What will become critical is effective and meaningful communication and relationships.
The development of such ontology will require understandings of responsibility and obligation, of community, of reflexivity and complementarity. By responsibility and obligation I am referring here to an acceptance of relatedness and connectedness, and of the myriad of responsibilities and obligations that flow from this. For instance, in honouring my relationship and connection to the environment, I accept an obligation to recycle, to clean beaches that I visit, and to grow organically. Community to me speaks of the many different communities that I belong to, that own me or that I am in the process of creating. They may include, for instance, my primary relationship, my whanau, hapu and iwi, Te Piringa, the international community of indigenous peoples, individuals with whom I engage in political activism, people with whom I share core beliefs, some feminists. By reflexivity, I am referring to a lifelong process and ontological vocation of developing the capacity to see your own ontology and how it impacts on others. And finally, complementarity speaks to me of the capacity to see both/and, and to honour these tensions or contradictions. Patricia Williams explains this phenomenon as follows:
It has to do with a fluid positioning that sees back and forth across boundary, which acknowledges that I can be black and good and black and bad and that I can also be black and white, male and female, yin and yang, love and hate.92
At its core, interrelatedness and interconnectedness is a profoundly metaphysical ontology that also requires human agency. This is not
the separation of mind, body and spirit demanded by Western epistemology, for separation is itself conceptually illogical and impossible to this ontology. What is important is not only the metaphysical or the human agent, but also the myriad of ways that the connections and relationships between them are formed and developed.
The application of this ontology of interrelatedness and interconnectedness in building relationships between Maori and the state and between Maori and Tauiwi would mean a number of things. First,: the state and Tauiwi would recognise the existence and the validity of Maori philosophy, Maori epistemology, and Maori law. This recognition would entail development of deep understanding of the impact of the past 162 years of Western epistemological and political hegemony; the state and Tauiwi would listen to and hear the injustices perpetuated by this hegemony, and be compelled to act to transform those oppressive practices. The purpose of building relationships between Maori and the state or with Tauiwi would not only be driven by sovereignty claims — there would be a genuine acceptance and appreciation of what we both bring to such relationships. Finally, Maori people may validate for themselves their right to be; and at their core, these relationships would not be determined by political, hegemonic or numerical power, but would be characterised by genuine engagement and dialogue kanohi ki te kanohi me ngakau ki te ngakau.
I ahau e tuhituhi ana i enei moemoea, e pouri ana taku ngakau mo enei
ahuatanga. Heoi ano kua maharatia e au te karanga o te rangatira
Maniapoto — whawhai tonu matou, ake tonu ake'.
IV: Drawing the strands together
This article highlighted the deployment of practices of power and counter-practices of resistance in the reclamation of Maori women's identity. I argued that while inevitable, these practices of resistance and that model of this relationship are inherently limiting and restrictive, for at their core, they are built around Western epistemology's dichotomous models of identity formation, whether that is a fixed or an essentialised identity formation or a model of social constructionism.
Western epistemology is, I contend, characterised by a narcissistic,
dichotomising, universalising and totalising pathology, which
148 Yearbook of New Zealand Jurisprudence Vol 5
it from developing or assisting in providing alternative consciousness that is necessary to transform oppressive practices. Thus, ideologies such as social constructionism and intersectionality that are built upon or in response to the pathologies of this epistemology will be similarly constrained and limiting. As Audre Lorde wrote — we can't dismantle the master's house with the master's tools.
What are required for this dismantling process are new or alternative tools which are not derived from the pathologised epistemology, but which are located in entirely alternative worldviews. In my journeying along this particular pathway, the worldview that I was inevitably guided to was that of my tupuna, that of my whanau, hapu and iwi in all senses of those words. In my very tentative and preliminary exploration of this alternative, and by its very existence, counter-hegemonic worldview, some central notions emerged as speaking of possibilities and of potential for transformative consciousness. Those central notions include collectivity and balance. The imperative underpinning both of these notions, however, is what I ultimately described as the ontology of te ao Maori — that is, the notion of interrelatedness and interconnectedness. Together these central notions of te ao Maori provide an alternative vision of human ontology that has the potential to be utilised and developed for the liberation of all peoples.
A Tauiwi colleague and close friend recently explained to me her reasons for being at Waikato Law School and for believing in and working on the bicultural project," despite the setbacks and
93 For discussion of Waikato Law School's bicultural project, see Wilson, M
`The Law School: a new beginning' in Goldring, J; Sampford, C; and Simmonds, R (eds) New Foundations in Legal Education (Avalon, NSW: Cavendish Publishing [Australia], 1998) 195-197; Milroy, S 'Waikato Law School's Bicultural Commitment' (Waikato: Unpublished Masters Thesis, 1996); Papuni, M 'The Realities of Maori at Law School' (Waikato: Unpublished Masters Thesis, 1996); Mikaere, A `Taku Titiro: Viewpoint —Rhetoric, reality and recrimination: striving to fulfil the hicultural commitment at Waikato Law School' (1998) 3(2) He Pukenga Korero 4 and Whiu, L 'Waikato Law School's hicultural vision — anei te huarahi hei wero I a tatou katoa; this is the challenge confronting us all'  WkoLawRw 10; (2001) 9 Waikato Law Review 265-292.
disappointments that we encounter along this journey.94 This prompted in me a deeper awareness and engagement with what I have known for a long time now is my life purpose — that is, to be an activist, to be counter-hegemonic, and to contribute through teaching and research, at this stage in my life at least, to the development of alternative transformative consciousness. This article has partially clarified for me different strategies, ideologies, and practices that can be deployed in pursuit of this goal. However it has also provided the space in which my own creative consciousness could develop and grow alternative transformative consciousness. I acknowledge my tupuna for guiding me and preparing me for this journey — he mihi nui ki aku tupuna mo o koutou whakaaro hohonu i roto i tenei kete.
94 He mihi ki a koe aku tino hoa e Gay mo o whakaaro hohonu.