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.
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.