Department of Social and Cultural Anthropology
Indigeneities in the 21st century: From ‘vanishing people’ to global players in one generation
(ERC Starting Grant, Number 803302)
Principal Investigator: Prof. Dr. Philipp Schorch
Research interests/Area of responsibility
(Re)visualizing Indigeneity: Menginpehn lien Pohnpei and German Postcolonial Legacies
From an Indigenous positionality as a Pacific poet, ethnographer and curator, I seek to (re)visualize and (re)position the material and visual culture of Pohnpei, Micronesia, which is primarily centered on the handiwork or menginpeh of women, past and present. Initially, this will entail archival research on Pohnpeian materialities and their representations in German museums, such as MARKK Hamburg. Indigenously framed ethnographic research will also be carried out, in Pohnpei and in Pohnpeian diasporic communities in Hawaiʻi and the USA, on the deep forms of cultural knowledge and skill embodied in contemporary menginpehn lih and their transregional/transnational movements. In referencing Pohnpeian visual culture, captured in handiwork and its photographic manifestations, I “look” into the “visual roots” of Pacific literature as a “platform for Indigenous scholars, artists and writers to better articulate the ways in which our work perpetuates the Indigenous.” I will also visually document my research through photography and film to further speak to the importance of the visual in (re)presenting 21st century Pohnpeians. Finally, my project will expand Indigenous curatorial research and practice to include Indigenous “Micronesian,” particularly Pohnpeian, worldviews and epistemologies, which are largely unexplored in ethnographic museums. In the German context, this is especially important, given the large collections of Micronesian material heritage in its museums as a result of Germany’s colonization of the region (1899-1914). An essential part of the project is its contribution to re-emerging Indigeneities and their postcolonial legacies in Germany and beyond.
Emelihter Kihleng served as the first Curatorial Research Fellow, Oceania at MARKK Hamburg from February 2019 until February 2020. She has worked in museums and historic preservation, and taught at academic institutions in Guåhan (Guam), Pohnpei, the Federated States of Micronesia, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi and Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand. Emelihter earned her PhD in Pacific Studies from Victoria University of Wellington in 2015. Being also a poet, she co-edited the first anthology of writings by Indigenous Micronesians, Indigenous Literatures from Micronesia (2019), and co-curated the current exhibition at MARKK, In the Shadow of Venus: Lisa Reihana and Pacific Taonga.