Of the people, for the people, by the people: He tangata, He tangata, He tangata - The value of autobiography in academia: Maori women and Post World War Two American Presidents
The catch phrase title of this presentation Of the people, for the people, by the people: He tangata, He tangata, He tangata will be immediately recognised by scholars of American history and Maori studies. The expression Of the people, for the people, by the people is taken from US President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysberg address at the height of the American Civil War in 1863. Although it is in reference to democracy in the American republic, its literal form in my opinion alludes to the very essence of autobiographies. They are written by people about themselves and they are given to wider audience. And so there is a democratic essence about autobiographies. Any fool, dimwit or halfwit can create an autobiography. And you know what, that is the beautiful nature of them. They can be as formalistic or artistic as the author wants it to be. I now turn to the Maori expression in the catch phrase title. This is an expression taken from a Maori proverb that ponders He aha te mea nui o te ao, he tangata he tangata he tangata The meaning roughly translates as What is the most important thing in the world, it is the people, the people, the people. And again, this expression’s significance is that autobiographies are a product of people. People and indeed the person is clearly at the centre of the narrative or to use a Maori term, the centre of the korero. In this presentation I explore the value of autobiographies in academia.
Conference: Self Narratives : A Research Conversation Day, Dunedin
Keywords: biography; biographies; autobiography; autobiographies; self narratives; Maori women; Māori women; US presidents; post WW2 American Presidents; US Post WW2 presidents
Research Type: Seminar, Speech or Other Presentation