There is more ocean than land. The Pacific, the ocean that in the Western collective imagination conjures up images of deserted islands, tsunamis, tattoos, cannibals, and generally all that is unknown, is larger than the entire continental surface of the Earth, as well as all the other water masses combined. We have been taught to consider the world from the perspective of the mainland. What if we were to consider it from the ocean—and not the one that lies between us and Europe, but the one we have historically turned our back on?
The articles and images that make up this number invite us to think about the planet in this other way. In an essay entitled “Ocean-world,” Carlos Mondragón, our continent’s great specialist on Melanesia, to whom we are grateful for his contributions to this edition, talks about the “island sea,” the territory with the world’s greatest linguistic diversity. Meanwhile, Eric Wittersheim talks about colonialism in this same region. Jerry K Jacka describes the immense accumulation of garbage (made up mostly of plastic) that floats in the pacific, and how this waste makes its way into our intestines. Israel Baxin Martínez tells us about the islands in the Mexican Pacific and their enigmatic history. In her essay, Anahí Luna immerses herself in literature in order to tell the stories of Maori tattoos and the influence that they had on artists such as Covarrubias. Paul Theroux delivers a very entertaining text about Hawaiian style and fashion, in which he portrays this island’s very peculiar society, where being a writer involves no glamour whatsoever.
These communities that are difficult for us to conceive of have more in common with American cultures than we could even imagine. Much like the communities of our continent, they were subjugated by colonialism, but they have resisted for centuries, rejecting the nouns of the oppressor and defending the words of their native languages.
Among all the terrifying consequences of climate change, there is the increasingly likely possibility that the melting of the polar ice caps will mean the disappearance of the Polynesian islands, as well as of Japan, Bangkok, Shanghai and Singapore. Observing the world from the Pacific allows us to identify new strategies to help us face the two important realities that loom over us: neocolonialism and climate change. Shifting our gaze towards other ways of living is not only enlightening and fascinating; it is also the only way of escaping this present that—at least from the point of view of our culture—seems to be a dead end.
Imagen de portada: John Pule, Hafata (detalle), 2016. Cortesía del artista y de la Galería Gow Langsford