In this article, we investigate how participatory development programs are implemented in our own under-covered region of Oceania. We investigate how participatory programs do the opposite of what they promote, to subordinate local populations to pre-set foreign agendas. This idea is firstly explored in a discussion on the historical emergence of participatory development as a form of governance. We secondly analyze how such participatory development projects have been implemented in the Fijian Sugar Industry and in Community Based Fishery Management across Oceania. Lastly, we discuss the potential of Oceanic governments to break free of the mind trick of participatory development, and to reclaim the Oceanic development agenda.
Epeli Hau’ofa’s highly influential essay, Our Sea of Islands, asserts that the peoples of Oceania, are not passive figures on the regional and world stage as they are so commonly depicted. Rather, he considers Oceanic peoples to be guardians that play a vital and powerful role in the environmental protection of the region’s Ocean resources. This article contextualizes the changing geopolitical complex occurring in Oceania with the entrance of Asian power and influence. It analyses the increased importance of Oceania for Asian countries, and specifically how the increased presence of aid and Asian fishing vessels in the region is challenging the predominately western geopolitical complex in the region. This article ends with notes on how Oceanic people perceive the Ocean, and their role in it as guardians, in this changing geopolitical complex. Most importantly I ask, how is Hau’ofa’s guardian narrative achieved in this over-saturation of foreign influence?
Pacific culture is widely recognised for its rich vibrancy, interwoven social norms, and unique customs. Melanesian culture is viewed and revered by outsiders as a model of collectivised community; the last vestige of the authentic other from a past time. However, increasing globalisation, better access to transport and an insistence by developmental institutions to follow neo-liberal pathways have caused substantial societal disconnections. Urbanisation in the Pacific is not new; it has been occurring over many decades and will continue at an increasing rate in the years ahead. This article examines urbanisation in Vanuatu caused by the migration from Vanuatu’s outer islands to Port Vila. To date, the resilience of Ni-Vanuatu kastom has insulated many migrants from the hardship and issues caused by insufficient facilities, infrastructure and services. The article aims to provide a contextual overview up to the present time, noting cultural characteristics that are particular to the social situation of Ni-Vanuatu, but also recognising that there may be similar parallels across Melanesia.
In a previous article I introduced the notion that exile is not an unfamiliar experience in Oceania, and that a new form of tacit island exile is emerging in Oceania. This form of exile is tacit in the sense that some inhabitants of rural islands are encouraged, but not explicitly forced, to migrate to informal settlements in urban areas because of a lack of available rural land and opportunities. In this form of exile, they are not shunned by their kin living on their home islands, but they are also not welcome back. In this article I will further focus on how tacit island exiles’ experience of home is different from other exiles’ experiences of home, and the implications of this difference. I argue that the indeterminable relationship tacit island exiles have with home, along with the insecure position they hold within the urban informal settlements they have migrated to, affects how they perceive home and place in unique unprecedented ways. In particular, tacit island exile re-frames Fijian concepts of person-hood which has traditionally been highly attached to land.
Exile is a word that signifies the forced physical expulsion from a place without the permission to return. For many, the idea of exile conjures an image of being removed from society and being abandoned on an uncharted island as commonly depicted in novels and movies. Exile has come to mean something different in the Oceanic context. The prospect of exile is not an unthinkable prospect for many island inhabitants and not something restricted to select groups of others or a concept rooted in fantasy. Historically, various social, cultural, political and environmental developments have caused islanders to be exiled from their home islands. This article explores the various forms of exile Oceanic people have experienced historically. It also explores a new form of tacit island exile emerging in Oceania. This form of exile is tacit in the sense that some inhabitants of rural islands are encouraged, but not explicitly forced, to migrate to informal settlements in urban areas. Such exile is prompted by island kin because of a lack of available rural land and opportunities. I argue the tacit nature of this form of exile affects how these exiles produce home in the urban context.
This website’s primary aim is to track urban social change in Oceania. Urban social change is deserving of academic attention because the ways cities change has implications for the everyday lives of most of the region’s population. It underscores how traditional ways of life are pursued; livelihood activities carried out, conventions of social interaction established, and the way people and goods move across space. Climate change, the presence of political independence movements, international mining projects, and infrastructural development are just a few of the vast array of processes and developments that are changing how urban life is experienced in Oceania. This website, with an urban social change perspective, fundamentally focuses on how these broader developments affect how everyday urban lives are fostered and pursued in the region. In this article, I describe how the study of cities has over time progressively acknowledged how global developments interact with local urban lives. I then provide an overview of the unique context of urban social change in Oceania.