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Open Access Publications from the University of California


The Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies (JCMRS) is a peer-reviewed online interdisciplinary journal dedicated to Critical Mixed Race Studies (CMRS). JCMRS functions as an open-access forum for critical mixed race studies and will be available without cost to anyone with access to the Internet. JCMRS is sponsored by UC Santa Barbara's Department of Sociology and is hosted on the eScholarship Repository, which is part of the eScholarship initiative of the California Digital Library.

Mixedness and Indigeneity in the Pacific

Issue cover
Cover Caption:Mixedness and Indigeneity in the Pacific

This special issue draws our attention to Indigenous perspectives across the Pacific and asks us to center them in our analyses of mixed race. In this issue, we will hear from a range of scholars about the perspectives and experiences of Indigenous and/or mixed-race populations in Aotearoa New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Fiji, Kanaky/New Caledonia, and Guam.

Front Matter

Cover Art

This cover was created by G. Reginald Daniel. The image is by Ashlea Gillon (Ngāti Awa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāiterangi).

Table of Contents

A list of articles in this special issue on mixedness and Indigeneity in the Pacific.

Editor's Note

Introduction to the special issue. We remember and honor the founding editor and inaugural editor in chief of JCMRS, G. Reginald Daniel.


Mixed Race, Mixed Identities, and Indigeneity: Context and Theory

In the opening piece of this special issue of the Journal of Critical Mixed Race Studies, “Mixedness and Indigeneity in the Pacific,” Zarine L. Rocha provides context and theory for the issue’s unpacking of mixed race, mixed identities, and Indigeneity.

Whiria Tū Aka: Conceptualizing Dual Ethnic Identities, Complexities, and Intensities

The Indigenous ethnic grouping Māori did not exist prior to Pākehā arrival in Aotearoa New Zealand. Instead, Māori identified as members of hapū (kinship group, subtribe), and membership was always related to concepts inclusive of whakapapa (genealogy, ancestry, belonging, and self-identification). In addition, Māori often intermarried with members of other hapū and, therefore, have a long history of “mixedness.” In fact, re-tellings of whakapapa have always acknowledged and honored the mixedness that occurred as a result of unions between different hapū members. In these ways, Māori have always celebrated our complex mixed identity positionings. Since colonization, a new “mixedness” has occurred between Māori and Pākehā settlers in Aotearoa. This article interrogates Māori/Pākehā notions of “mixedness,” including being white coded, kiri mā (white skin), white Māori, socially assigned as Pākehā, or half-caste. It discusses the ways these labels affect how Māori/Pākehā engage in social and cultural settings that require different performances and enactments of “Māori-ness.” This article examines the complex identities and experiences of mixed Māori/Pākehā. Using Kaupapa Māori theory, methodology, and methods, this study identifies and re-presents conceptions of belonging and mixedness from a distinctly Māori worldview.

“But Aren’t We All Mixed Race?”: The Politics of Mixed-Race Identity and Belonging in Papua New Guinea

Mixed-race people in Papua New Guinea (PNG) have long been socially acknowledged as a distinct ethnic group—a group whose individual members sometimes also oscillate between being subsumed by, included within, or excluded from other racial categories like Asian, Black, Brown, Indigenous, and White. It is perhaps this ability to shift between what are often perceived as fixed racial categories that leaves some mixed-race people having to justify, negotiate, or explain the breakdown of their ethnic heritage to strangers, friends, and colleagues, some of whom think it is enlightened to say things like, “But aren’t we all mixed race?” or “Are you sure that’s what you are?” or the far less benign “You’re nothing but a mixed-race bastard.” This article examines historical and contemporary ideas about mixed-race identity in PNG in terms of both the privilege and oppression that members of this category experience. It stresses that racial identity in PNG is strongly connected to notions of peles (one’s place of Indigenous origin)­—a reliance that is beyond the influence of colonialism—and is further shaped by language, behavior, and social relationships. Drawing on the work of Linda Tuhiwai-Smith, Epeli Hau’ofa, and Irma McClaurin, the article decolonizes data collection and analysis techniques and sets Black, Islander, and female perspectives at the core of the methodological approach. In addition, the author’s own socialization as a mixed-race woman of New Zealand Pakeha and PNG descent adds further insight to the topic.

Exploring Mixedness in Fiji: Navigating Mixed-Race Identities for Individuals of Indo-Fijian and Indigenous Fijian Descent

This article explores the shifts and negotiations of racial, ethnic, and national identity for persons of mixed Indo-Fijian and Indigenous Fijian descent. The study provides a detailed historical overview of the racialization of politics and identity in Fiji and the subsequent politicization of mixed race. Drawing on narratives of identity and belonging gathered from multiple individual and group interviews with ten participants in Fiji, the article juxtaposes this historical framework with the lived reality of mixedness in contemporary Fiji. Framed within the field of critical mixed race studies, this research identifies and interrogates how identity constructions are challenged, accommodated, and reinforced through the participants’ lived experiences of mixedness and how this relates to Indigenous identity. The article seeks to provide a new layer of analysis at a time when identity politics remain critical in Fijian society. Drawing on models of mixed identity developed in the West, it explores how mixed identities in Fiji converge with and diverge from experiences elsewhere. By moving away from studies of colonizer/colonized mixedness, this research enriches mixed-race scholarship with a unique study of mixing, migration, and Indigeneity in an understudied region of the world.

Mixed-Race Kanak in “a World Cut in Two”: Contemporary Experiences in Kanaky/New Caledonia

This article interrogates how the profound history of spatial segregation across colonial, racial, and cultural lines appears in contemporary narratives of mixed-race people in Kanaky/New Caledonia (K/NC). By tracing the moments that specific spaces, such as “the city” and “the tribe,” are mentioned in these narratives, the article shows how the colonial divide structures selves, relations, spaces, and society and manifests itself in discussions with self-identified métis/ses Kanak-White people, especially in the context of the formal decolonization process K/NC is going through. The research draws primarily on interviews with self-identified métis/ses Kanak-White people that took place a few months before the 2018 referendum for independence. The primary question this article seeks to answer is: how does French colonialism spatially determine the lives of métis/ses in K/NC? For this purpose, it analyzes how métis/ses Kanak-White people navigate the variety of spaces they inhabit through experiences of everyday racism and explores how spatial polarization appears in their stories, particularly given the significance of the land for Kanak identity. Notably, the article shows how colonial rhetoric transpires in these different spaces by way of regulating whether the métis/se body belongs within a particular space.

Rhetorical Dance of Belonging: Chamaole Narratives of Race, Indigeneity, and Identity from Guam

This article is based on an investigation of identity formations of a mixed-race mestisa/mestisu group from Guam, locally known as Chamaole, who are descendants of both native Chamorros and White Americans (haole). Using a hybrid research methodology, the author analyzes Chamaole encounters with ambiguity in interviews with three Chamaole authors and poets: Jessica Perez-Jackson (“Half Caste”), Lehua M. Taitano (excerpts from A Bell Made of Stones), and Corey Santos (“Chamaoli”). An analysis of their works and their interviews reveals patterns of cultural, genealogical, racial, linguistic, and political conflicts between Chamorros and White Americans since the US occupation of Guam. The article articulates how Chamaoles overcome race-based prejudices, celebrate Chamorro resistance, and reckon with White supremacy, showing that tensions resulting from US colonialism in Guam are magnified in Chamaole experiences. Applying a Pacific studies model of abundance, it illustrates that Chamaoles embody a repository of genealogical kåna in which each ancestral line adds power to their lived experiences and offers legitimacy to their Chamorro belonging. Chamaoles are Indigenous Chamorro people; if they claim their genealogy and their families/communities claim them, they belong to the Chamorro community. This Pacific studies model of abundance directly challenges racist, White supremacist, anti-Indigenous deficit models of blood quantum and fractional composition.

Book Reviews

Darryl Leroux. Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity

Review of Darryl Leroux's Distorted Descent: White Claims to Indigenous Identity from University of Manitoba Press.

Billie Allan and V. C. Rhonda Hackett (eds.). Decolonizing Equity

Review of Billie Allan and V. C. Rhonda Hackett's edited volume Decolonizing Equity from Fernwood Publishing.

Samira K. Mehta. The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging

Review of Samira K. Mehta's The Racism of People Who Love You: Essays on Mixed Race Belonging from Beacon Press.

The Contributors

About the Contributors

Bios of the contributors to this special issue on mixedness and Indigeneity in the Pacific.