Brett Graham (Aotearoa/New Zealand)
foam, tar, feathers
Different manifestations of binding can involve alienation, appropriation and misappropriation that may result in an integration of sorts. But even when relevant facts are known, integration with a partial or total disconnect can also occur.
As a character, Stitch has an alien origin—that is, alien to Earth. The creators of the animation film Lilo and Stitch originally intended the narrative to be set in Kansas. But the plot was shifted to Hawai‘i where a Hawaiian family adopts Stitch. The family was portrayed as dysfunctional and impoverished by a failing American economy. The long-standing reasons for these conditions—the overthrow of the Hawaiian monarchy, colonization, and annexation of the islands by the United States that were definite negative repercussions of a forced binding of two societies—are never mentioned in the Lilo and Stitch narrative. Once these factors are taken into consideration, though, Stitch can be viewed as emblematic of them.
Graham recently completed a residency on the East Coast of the United States and was intrigued by the practice of the American revolutionaries, who tarred and feathered their traitors—those who remained loyal to Britain. He writes, “although the United States was founded on ‘liberty’ and ‘independence,’ it does not recognize Hawaii’s own claim to self-determination. Although Stitch has been ‘adopted’ by a Hawaiian family, he essentially remains an outsider, an alien to their cause.”