In the context of global climate change, remote coastal communities are generally regarded as the most vulnerable (Uitto & Shaw, 2016). This observation arises from the combined effects of their low income, high levels of resource dependency and their exposure to sea-level rise, rainfall variability, increase in storm frequencies and intensity (Cinner et al., 2018). In this article, Klepp and Herbeck (2016) first analyse how environmental migration is discussed in the Pacific region by providing a short overview of the academic debate on the environment-migration nexus. In the second section, the article uncovers the increasing complex decision-making processes and development of policies and laws to address environmental migrants in the Pacific region. By concentrating on emerging developments in policies and rights for environmental migrants in the global south, the authors avoid the often criticized victimizing perspective on Pacific islands and climate change adaptation (Farbokto, 2010), focusing instead on the agency of the people in the Pacific who are fighting for their futures. This article review agrees with the authors’ approach, also known as the ‘autonomy of migration approach’, and will focus on the role of human agency and social capital to further demonstrate how adaptation strategies are inseparably connected to ideas about climate justice, unequal North-South relationships, and attempts to cope with colonial heritage.
Maclellan’s (2021) chapter, Stable Democratic and Western: China and French Colonialism in the Pacific, is part of Smith & Wesley-Smith (2021) edited book The China Alternative: Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands. The edited book as a whole brings together a collection of scholars who analyze China’s growing involvement in the Pacific. The edited book is a welcome addition as it approaches the topic in a measured way that contrasts to prior literature that is often hyperbolic and hysterical about Chinese influence. Maclellan’s (2021) chapter is particularly refined in the sense that it analyses Chinese interest in the region in a context of the continued French colonial legacy in the Pacific. This colonial legacy invariably affects how Chinese interest and ambition in the region is pursued in the region. It also affects how Chinese interest is responded to by France, other western states, and Pacific states. Overall, Maclellan (2021) paints a obstructionist and self-interested Francophone picture which Chinese and Pacific Island non-state actors navigate to progress local interests. It puts the notion of a “stable, democratic and western” Pacific into a more critical perspective.
In the public imaginary, Oceania is a remote region of tropical paradise, perfect for a family holiday away from the troubles of everyday life. As much as Oceania’s geographic, political and economic remoteness defines its islands as alluring holiday destinations, Chris Ryan (2001) argues that it is this very remoteness that also defines the tourism sector in Oceania as a “case of marginalities”. He argues in his article; Tourism in the South Pacific – A Case of Marginalities, that Oceania’s multifaceted remoteness marginalises its peoples, communities, and nations involved in the tourism sector. In this journal article review, Lucas Watt, Roxane de Waegh, and Greg Watt critique Ryan (2001) in reference to the current context in Oceania.
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?