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Sebastian Jablonski

Doctoral Fellow


Campus Am Neuen Palais
Am Neuen Palais 10
Building 1, Room 0.15
14469 Potsdam


by appointment only

Dissertation Project

An Archipelago of Influence: Pitcairn Islanders from Literary Contradictions to Focal Points in British and U.S. American 19th Century Colonial Writing 

This project analyzes nineteenth century British and U.S. American literary representations of Pitcairn Islanders primarily through lenses of postcolonial literary and cultural studies, informed by related academic fields of Archipelagic Studies and decolonial/Indigenous Pacific Studies. Seemingly outside of the sphere of imperial struggles for the domination in the Pacific, Pitcairn Islanders, people of mixed English-Tahitian heritage, were continuously reinvented as socio-cultural contradictions in the British and U.S. American literature, symbolizing at first a ‘paradise found’ and gradually turning into ‘wretches’ in need of an ‘enlightened’ religious-civilizational intervention. These shifts in perception at first appear to be roughly following wider changes and ‘disenchantments’ with the “Oriental Islands” and their Indigenous Inhabitants. Pitcairn Islanders are thus ‘written’ into a nexus of colonial history of the Pacific conquest, though seemingly located on its margins. The main aim of this project is to invalidate this marginalization and argue how the Anglo-U.S. American texts produced about colonial-Pitcairn encounters indeed established them as subjects of the imperial gaze in the focus of converging imperial projects. It will also use Indigenous Pacific decolonial knowledge production and activism to reinterpret the role of Pitcairn Islanders in wider imperial efforts and the Pacific counter-actions to it.


I earned a licentiate degree in Teaching English from the University of Warsaw and a Master of Arts in Anglophone Modernities in Literature and Culture from the University of Potsdam, for which I received a DAAD stipend. I worked as a research and teaching assistant at the University of Potsdam and as a lecturer at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. My research interests include archipelagic studies, the history of nineteenth century Pacific colonization and anglophone Pacific colonial literature. My article on Pitcairn Island has been published in Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies (Vol. 9.2. 12.2021) under the title The ‘uncorrupted’ Paradise: Religion and imperial epistemic violence on Pitcairn Island.

Research Interests

  • Pitcairn Island
  • Archipelagic Studies
  • Pacific Studies
  • Nineteenth Century Pacific Travel Narratives
  • Contradiction Studies
  • Epistemic Violence in Colonial Literature
  • US American Imperialism/Exceptionalism


(forthcoming) “‘Betwixt and Between’ – Pitcairn Islanders as People in Colonizers’ Liminal Space” in Postcolonial Oceans: Contradictions and Heterogeneities in the Epistemes of Salt Water edited by Kerstin Knopf, Anna-Katharina Hornidge, Sukla Chatterjee and Joanna Chojnicka, 2023, pp. (TBA).

“The ‘Uncorrupted’ Paradise: Religion and Imperial Epistemic Violence on Pitcairn Island.” Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies, vol. 9.2 (2021), pp. 199-214


“Review: Gregory Rosenthal Beyond Hawaiʻi: Native Labor in the Pacific World,” Journal of New Zealand & Pacific Studies, vol. 9.2 (2021), pp. 272-274

Academic Engagements

Communications officer and a non-voting council member: New Zealand Studies Association (NZSA)