Saturday, 9 November 2013

Getting a niu (new) perspective - Samoan identity model

The concept of an identity continuum is most definitely transferable across all cultures - it is cross- cultural, the specifics of how an ethnic group identifies within their own ethnic group is forever changing, as new identity constructs are formed based on globalisation - the influences of other cultures, time - as we move towards an ever-changing future of the unknown, choices - as we decide how we will live (values), in the contexts and spaces we find ourselves living our experiences.

I have had the great fortune of being able to live the way I live based on the life-changing decisions of my parents to migrate to New Zealand from Samoa in pursuit of a better future.  What I have discovered and found extremely interesting is that my parents have raised me with what I call "snapshot Samoan values".  I have come to realise that I have been raised in the memories of values and practices that they have brought with them from Samoa at the time of their migration.  This means that while growing up in Aotearoa with these Samoan values, Samoa has continued to evolve in our physical absence, with the impact of globalisation, time and choices. 

These have served to inform my ideas around what a Samoan identity model looks like for Samoans as diaspora societies in their adopted homelands for generations, for recent Samoan migrants to their new adopted homelands and for Samoans who continue to live in the motherland.

Translations: gagana Samoa (Samoan language) Fa'aSamoa (Samoan customs, traditions and protocols), Samoa mao'i (hardcore Samoan), "Samoa mo Samoa" (Samoans for Samoa - historical reference to Samoa's desire for self-governance and independence from the time of the Mau movement during the NZ administration of Samoa).

Multiple identities of Samoans
1. Samoa mao'i - "Samoa mo Samoa"
2. Fluent gagana Samoa, no fa'aSamoa
3. Fluent Fa'aSamoa , no gagana Samoa
4. Some gagana Samoa, no Fa'aSamoa
5. Some Fa'aSamoa, no gagana Samoa 
6. Brought up in the Fa'aSamoa, chooses not to engage in Fa'aSamoa or speak gagana Samoa
7. Not brought up in the Fa'aSamoa but chooses to engage in Fa'aSamoa and gagana Samoa
8. No gagana Samoa, no Fa'aSamoa

Contributing factors to the multiple identities of Samoans:

1. Diaspora Samoan vs. Samoan born Samoan
2. Second language learner (gagana Samoa is the mother tongue)
3. Academic language learner (gagana Samoa is studied at tertiary level)
4. Passive vs. Active (understanding gagana Samoa rather than speaking it)
5. Relationship between gagana Samoa and Fa'aSamoa, practises gagana Samoa
6. Formal school learning environment (does it allow for gagana Samoa and Fa'aSamoa?)
7. Family environment (is gagana Samoa or Fa'aSamoa practised as family values?)
8. Palagi showing cultural competence  - Palagi developing fluent gagana Samoa and now teaching it
9. New milliennium Samoan 
10. Ethnicity vs. Identity

This blog post is dedicated to Sonya (@vanschaijik) who requested a Samoan perspective of my last post on the Māori Identity model.