Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Yale Press Bans Images of Muhammad in New Book
By Patriacia Cohen in the New York Times, Published: August 12, 2009

I ran this NYT story on the blog last week and it has drawn the following response from scholar and columnist Brian Easton. Can anyone help answer his questions?

Dear Graham,

Before I come to a view of whether or not to include illustrations of Muhammad in a publication, I was wondering if you would invite some expert to write on the Maori parallel.

Once there were restrictions. I recall Elsie Locke telling me that she requested a British publisher of one of her books to reverse a picture of Queen Victoria above a picture of a Maori chief on the cover, because it was inappropriate to have a chief's head below a woman.
My impression is that there are fewer such rules today.
I would be grateful for informed advice on the following:

1. Were there restrictions on portraying Maori?

2. If so, when they were relaxed (if they were)?

3. Are there any specifically Maori restrictions left?

Thank you for any useful responses,
Brian Easton.

1 comment:

Keri Hulme said...

I'm not an expert, but I do come from a Maori (Kai Tahu) background...Elsie was unusual in her sensitivities - but then, she was wonderfully unusual in so many ways. It takes very little research to show that, up until the mid-1970s, Maori had very little power over what published or portrayed in the English-using press...Tawhio teatowels anyway? Tattooed-chiefly head -candles?! How about the Hori series (that ran in 'Truth' - I think.) It didnt just snigger at a Pakeha-framed stereotype - it transgressed some cultural values that were - and are - dear to Maori (cultural, rather than religious, in my opinion, altho' most of those matters have a stron philosophical background.)

The candles & the teatowels are gone: a woman artist who submitted a painting that used her own menstrual blood had it yanked from an artbook that included works by Maori women artists (this in the 1980s)...I think most publishers et al are now aware - in ANZ! of noa/tapu, head/body sanctities.

If not - and something that is truly offensive is published- they soon will be made aware.

All part of growing up into an adult society within this wonderful archipelago.

Yes- it also applies to overseas publications (e.g.my USA publishers get back to me before new covers are tried out.)