In the recently released “A Marianas Mosaic: Signs and Shifts in Contemporary Island Life,” contributing author and editor Ajani Burrell talks about the rise in popularity of locally sourced apparel and the recent shift in neighborly behavior on the island of Rota.
“A Marianas Mosaic” was edited by Northern Marianas College faculty members Ajani Burrell and Kimberly Bunts-Anderson. The collection explores the many modes, forms, and voices of life in the Marianas today. It was published under NMC and the University of Guam Press’ newly-established imprint Proa Publications, with support from the Northern Marianas Humanities Council.
In his first essay in the collection, “Repping the Marianas,” Burrell analyzes the logos, taglines, and marketing material from local clothing brands, as well as extensive interviews with brand creators and designers. His second piece, "May I Borrow Some Soy Sauce?”, describes how neighbors in Rota are increasingly less likely to ask one another for small favors and explores some possible reasons for this seemingly prevalent shift.
According to Burrell, both of his articles relied heavily on interviews, and arose out of a fundamental curiosity about specific cultural phenomena unfolding in the Marianas.
“I am thankful for the earnest cooperation of interviewees and the wider public,” Burrell said.
Burrell believes that the establishment of Proa Publications is important, and will help spur greater production of literary work in the Marianas.
“Local avenues to produce and distribute literature about the region are of vital importance,” Burrell said. “They offer the greatest potential for ensuring local voices and perspectives are shared with the wider world in a fashion that befits the people and culture of the CNMI.”
“Proa Publications also offers an easily accessible outlet for possible publication. As publications from the imprint become a more regular feature of the literary landscape, people will feel they too can achieve the goal of producing publishable work through exposure to similar such work by people they likely know or have a personal connection to. This can be a very powerful motivating force,” Burrell added.
Proa Publications was established in February 2022 through a memorandum of understanding between the University of Guam Press and Northern Marianas College. Proa Publications expands publishing opportunities in the region, and seeks to increase the body of accessible knowledge about Micronesia through high-quality publications.
The public is invited to learn more about the newly established imprint at the “Meet the Authors'' and book-signing event at the Joeten-Kiyu Public Library on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at 1:00p.m. The Northern Marianas Humanities Council will host the event.