Whiria te tāngata / Weaving people together
Communicative projects of decolonising, engaging, and listening
Whiria te tangata, weaving the people together, is a Māori proverb (whakataukī) about the strength that comes through common purpose.
The whakataukī highlights multiple issues that we invite conference participants to explore. It invites analysis of commonality in mediated communication, given the weaker power of place-based mass media, the rise of algorithmic culture, the challenges of engaging with difference in multicultural contexts and the crises facing neoliberal globalisation. This looser weave has both political and cultural implications. The use of a Māori proverb also invites particular attention to analysis of indigenous communication and other attempts to challenge or rework colonial structures.
More broadly, the theme invites reflection on the terms and models appropriate to describe contemporary communication, including the political and moral goals embedded in them. It therefore also points to alternative ways of theorising or evaluating communication alongside dominant imaginaries such as the public, and of the colonial and gendered histories that are part of those imaginaries.
Weaving also emphasises the agency of the communicator and directs attention to the valuing of communication as a project or skill, whether that is focused on social change, community or economic gain. Weaving too reminds us of the goal of a conference to build common purpose amongst participants.