Book Review: False Divides, by Lana Lopesi

Available in bookshops nationwide. 

cv_false_dividesLana Lopesi’s False Divides introduces the reader to issues created by the Moana (Pacific) diaspora and provides an excellent overview of issues of maintaining connections and identity, particularly in online spaces. Readers are left with many ideas and references to further their exploration of this important topic.

The book begins with Lopesi and her family in Taiwan, experiencing the ‘holiday from hell’ as language barriers and travelling with children resulted in multiple McDonald’s meals. The author was comforted after a trip to the ocean – seeing Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean). Later, while talking at an Indigenous design conference, the author yearns to explore the various indigenous relationships with Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa but is hampered by the language barrier – how to cross this divide is the overarching theme of the book.

The second chapter provides an overview of imperalism and colonisation throughout the Pacific and the long lasting impact. I was particularly moved by the accounts of how large countries maintained their power over colonised countries, despite the United Nations declaring the right of nations to self-determination.

False Divides continues with the origins of the Moana diaspora – the movement of people between countries based on employment opportunities. Lopesi notes that connections to home remain strong and have been strengthened with more accessible air travel and the arrival of the internet. The difference between the Moana experiences of migration to Aotearoa and Australia were fascinating.

The book concludes with exploration of social media as a tool to reinforce language and culture. I found this a powerful exploration, particularly in regards to visibility.

Lana Lopesi’s False Divides is a fantastic introduction to readers keen on an introduction to Moana issues and is fully referenced, allowing the reader to follow up on those topics they find interesting. It is a brilliant addition to the BWB Texts range, which, as always, deftly makes space for complex issues to be introduced to New Zealanders.

Review by Emma Rutherford

False Divides
by Lana Lopesi
Published by BWB Texts
ISBN 9781988533858

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