Dr. Georganne Nordstrom, Department of English, UH-Mānoa

Title: “Pidgin as Rhetorical Sovereignty”

In this talk, I look at Pidgin use through a rhetorical lens—an analysis that accounts for the social, ideological, cultural contexts of language use—to illustrate the implications of understanding Pidgin as a Kanaka Maoli linguistic resource versus as a “local” language. I discuss Kanaka Maoli poet Noelle Kahanu’s poem “The Question,” written in both Pidgin and English, as an example of what Scott Richard Lyons has termed rhetorical sovereignty. I posit that by writing in both languages, Kahanu constructs a complex identity that is a product of multiple affiliations and provides a narrative grounded in Kanaka Maoli experiences and epistemology. This talk illustrates how understanding Pidgin as Kanaka Maoli linguistic resource provides access to rhetorical implications of Pidgin language use that further our understandings of the connections between Pidgin and Kanaka Maoli culture. 

Bio: Dr. Georganne Nordstrom is an Associate Professor of Composition and Rhetoric and Director of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s (UHM) Writing Center. She researches critical and place-based pedagogy, and examinations of Indigenous and minority rhetorics, with a specific focus on Pidgin. She is a co-editor of Huihui: Aesthetics and Rhetorics of the Pacific (UH Press, 2015). Dr. Nordstrom is also the recipient of UHM’s 2016 Chancellor’s Citation for Meritorious Teaching and the 2012 Richard Braddock Award for the article “Ma ka Hana ka ‘Ike (In the Work is the Knowledge): Kaona as Rhetorical Action.”