In this article we review the edited book “Mapping Security in the Pacific: A Focus on Context, Gender, and Organizational Culture” by Sara Amin, Danielle Watson, and Christian Girard. In this article members of the Urban Oceania Reading Group review three chapters of this edited book offering their additional thoughts. Generally, the articles of the edited book not only consider the diverse and emerging threats to Pacific security, but it effectively considers the globally interconnected nature and theoretical underpinning of these security threats.
In this article we review Sheng and Smith’s (2021) chapter, The Shifting Fate of China’s Pacific Diaspora in the edited book The China Alternative: Changing Regional Order in the Pacific Islands. Roxane de Waegh engages with Sheng and Smith’s (2021) material on the founding of a Chinese diaspora in the Pacific in the colonial period through to the independence period. She, like the authors, argues that through competition and gaps in authority in colonial administration of Pacific colonies, Chinese settlers were able to carve out successful trading livelihoods in the region. Lucas Watt assess the degree of migrational continuity of the Chinese diaspora in the Pacific. He argues while there is certainly an under-appreciated migrational continuity of Chinese migration in the Pacific, it is nonetheless a loose continuity. In this review he explores the geopolitical implications of the the perceived and real migrational continuity of Chinese in the Pacific.
You get exactly whats on the tin for Bertram’s (2018) article, Why does the Cook Islands Still Need Overseas Aid? He asks, in a context where the private sector revolving around tourism is booming(at least prior to COVID-19), why would the Cook Islands require large amounts of Overseas Development Aid (ODA)? In 2018, the Cook Islands received close to 80 million dollars worth of grant aid. Bertram (2018) attributes the need for overseas aid on austerity measures that were enforced onto the Cook Islands in the structural readjustment period of the 1990s. Specifically, the Cook Islands were forced into a policy by the New Zealand government and the Asian Development Bank in 1998 whereby tax revenue should not exceed 25% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This has left the Cook Islands with a very small revenue pool to draw upon to service its expenses which consistently stand at 40% of GDP. Overseas aid is currently relied upon to service this gap in national revenue and expenses which limits what the Cook Island’s can do fiscally, as well as limits their general national autonomy. In this review we explore some thoughts which Bertram’s (2018) article has inspired.
Living in an informal settlement is common in Oceania. High rates of rural-urban migration and poor housing policy forces many to live on customary land on the peripheries of the Oceanic city. There is a great variance in how life is experienced within informal settlements in Oceania, however, informal settlement residents across the region have experienced some form of infrastructural exclusion in some form. What we mean by infrastructural exclusion in informal settlements is that one or more of the formal infrastructural services like water, electricity, garbage disposal, access to education and healthcare, are not provided to residents by their national governments. Anthropologists have begun to argue that denial to infrastructural services is akin to a denial of urban citizenship (Ranganathan, 2014; Rodgers & O’Neill, 2012; Von Schnitzler, 2008). Here we review the latest addition to this literature by Rooney (2021) and her article We Want Development”: Land and Water (Dis) connections in Port Moresby, Urban Papua New Guinea.
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?