Black Pacific

Why have the struggles of the African Diaspora so resonated with South Pacific people? How have Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha activists incorporated the ideologies of the African diaspora into their struggle against colonial rule and racism, and their pursuit of social justice? This book challenges predominant understandings of the historical linkages that make up the (post-)colonial world. The author goes beyond both the domination of the Atlantic viewpoint, and the correctives now being offered by South Pacific and Indian Ocean studies, to look at how the Atlantic ecumene is refracted in and has influenced the Pacific ecumene. The book is empirically rich, using extensive interviews, participation and archival work and focusing on the politics of Black Power and the Rastafari faith.



  • The Black Pacific: forum, critiques, responses - Recently The Disorder of Things ran a forum on my book, The Black Pacific. After an initial post by myself, Heloise Weber (University of Queensland), Sankaran Krishna (University of Hawai’i), Ajay Parasram (Carleton University), and Olivia Rutazibwa (University of Portsmouth) provided commentary and critique, and then I finished the forum with my response. Since then, I’ve been very fortunate […]
  • Pacific Redemption Songs - A few years ago I was reasoning with members of Ras Messengers, a reggae-jazz band who had in 1979 toured Aotearoa New Zealand. The Rastafari musicians recollected their experiences with various Māori communities. Occasionally female Māori elders (kuia), in introducing themselves to the band, would connect their genealogies back to Africa. The kuia did this […]
  • Aotearoa New Zealand: Inter and Outernational Struggles - During my five years in Aotearoa New Zealand, I undertook work that helped to retrieve the inter-connections of indigenous struggles in the Pacific with those of the African Diaspora (Outernational). I did this in order to contribute to the appreciation of the global impact/coordinates/influence of/on these indigenous struggles, and also to help to support the […]

2 thoughts on “Black Pacific

  1. I was recently emailed by Jeannette Ehrmann, from Goethe University, who is currently researching her important PhD on the Haitian Revolution.

    Dear Robbie,

    I hope your are doing well.

    I am right now sitting in a light-flooded library in the heart of Paris, reading Jean-Louis Janvier’s book “The Detractors of the Black Race and the Republic of Haiti”, published in 1882.

    I just stumbled over a passage that I would like to share with you in case you haven’t come across Janvier yet. It opens up another relation between Haiti and the Black Pacific and a shared identification across the pacific.

    Janvier speaks of Australia, where the indigenous population has been slaughtered; the Sandwich Islands where the population is dimished day by day; the Gambier Islands whose population has to suffer from a theocratic, catholic regime imposed upon them; Tahiti whose population has been diminished dramatically through colonial exploitation, tobacco, alcohol and opium. And New Zealand, where “the extermination of the Maori race has been executed systematically and coldbloodedly by the English. This was accomplished within 40 years.” (p. 54)

    “Don’t we have the right to raise our shoulders when some very ignorant voyagers tell us foolishly that Haitians should open their land to a mass immigration by whites?” (p. 55)

    Unfortunately, there seems to be no English translation except from a short extract (

    The French original is available online:

    I was so astonished when I read you chapter on the Maori/Haiti relation. Now, it’s great to see that this relation was not one-sided but grounded in a solidarity from Haiti’s part as well and that it could transcend the boundaries of colonial empires and languages.

    With this new discovery (at least for me), I wish you a great day on the other side of the channel.

    All the best,

  2. Came across this the other day. Can be interpreted a number of ways!

    “The study of race is at a low ebb indeed when we hear the same contemptuous epithet of “nigger” applied indiscriminately by the Englishmen abroad to the blacks of the West Coast of Africa, the Kaffirs of Natal, the Lascars of Bombay, the Hindoos of Calcutta, the aborigines of Australia, and even the Maoris of New Zealand!”
    – Professor William Henry Flower, comparative anatomist and anthropologist, addressing meeting at York, UK (1881)

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