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.