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.
This week we discussed Rousseau and Taylor’s (2012) article “Kastom Ekonomi and the Subject of Self-Reliance”. This is a particularly pertinent topic to discuss during the COVID-19 pandemic. Oceanic communities disconnected to the rest of the world due to border shut downs have been turning to the traditional economy to get by. For many (although certainly not all), this turn to the kastom ekonomi has been positively experienced as relational systems of sharing and reliance have been reinvigorated. As a result, Pacific leaders and scholars have been commenting that the COVID-19 context has given a rare opportunity rethink how Pacific economies operate. Specifically they have asked whether kastom ekonomi provides an avenue to shed dependency on developed nations and the fickle global economy. Rousseau and Taylor (2012) provided a basis for thinking about this possibility, its obstacles, and practicalities.