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Migration and Transnationalism

Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Migration and Transnationalism
    Book Description:

    Pacific Islanders have engaged in transnational practices since their first settlement of the many islands in the region. As they moved beyond the Pacific and settled in nations such as New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia these practices intensified and over time have profoundly shaped both home and diasporic communities. This edited volume begins with a detailed account of this history and the key issues in Pacific migration and transnationalism today. The papers that follow present a range of case studies that maintain this focus on both historical and contemporary perspectives. Each of the contributors goes beyond a narrowly economic focus to present the human face of migration and transnationalism; exploring questions of cultural values and identity, transformations in kinship, intergenerational change and the impact on home communities. Pacific migration and transnationalism are addressed in this volume in the context of increasing globalisation and growing concerns about the future social, political and economic security of the Pacific region. As the case studies presented here show, the future of the Pacific depends in many ways on the ties diasporic Islanders maintain with their homelands.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-91-5
    Subjects: Sociology, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Contributors
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xii)
    Helen Lee and Steve Tupai Francis
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-6)
    Helen Lee

    In the context of contemporary globalisation and increasing population mobility, the topics of migration and transnationalism have become the focus of studies in a number of disciplines, including anthropology, sociology, cultural geography and political science, and the contributors to this collection reflect this diversity. They bring a range of perspectives, theories and methodologies to their research, and focus on many Pacific Island states and Pacific populations in the main host nations of New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

    Within the vast body of literature on global migration the Pacific is well represented, however within the field of transnational studies...

  6. 1. Pacific Migration and Transnationalism: Historical Perspectives
    (pp. 7-42)
    Helen Lee

    The area now known as the Pacific was settled from west to east in surges of movement between island groups over hundreds of years, eventually taking people as far as Hawai′i in the north, Rapanui/Easter Island in the east and Aotearoa/New Zealand in the south. Throughout this process people maintained networks of contact between some of the islands, travelling in various kinds of seagoing vessels. Epeli Hau′ofa (1993a) has described the pre-colonial Pacific, the area he prefers to call Oceania, as a ′sea of islands′ within which people moved freely and frequently, created social networks, traded and exchanged goods, and...

  7. 2. Forms of Transnationalism, Forms of Tradition: Cloth and Cash as Ritual Exchange Valuables in the Tongan Diaspora
    (pp. 43-56)
    Ping-Ann Addo

    Robin Cohen begins his list of the features of diaspora with following: ′dispersal from a traditional homeland … [and] the expansion from a homeland in search of work, in pursuit of trade or to further colonial ambitions′ (Cohen 2008,161). Labor for money is often cited as a main reason for emigration of Tongans overseas and to nodes in the Tongan diaspora. A decidedly transnational economy has resulted for members of this ethnoscape with Tongans traveling overseas from their homeland to earn and remit cash, thus enabling themselves and their families to purchase Western goods and other trappings of modernity. Because...

  8. 3. Samoan Transnationalism: Cultivating ′Home′ and ′Reach′
    (pp. 57-72)
    Sa′iliemanu Lilomaiava-Doktor

    Declaring the need to rethink conceptions of international migration, anthropologists Basch, Glick Schiller and Blanc defined their understanding of transnationalism:

    We define ′transnationalism′ as the processes by which immigrants build social fields that link together their country of origin and their country of settlement. Immigrants who build such social fields are designated ′transmigrants.′ Transmigrants develop and maintain multiple relations—familial, economic, social, organizational, religious, and political that span borders. Transmigrants take actions, make decisions, feel concerns, and develop identities within social networks that connect them to two or more societies simultaneously (1994, 1–2).

    Issues which have dotted the field...

  9. 4. Kinship and Transnationalism
    (pp. 73-90)
    Cluny Macpherson and La′avasa Macpherson

    Kinship frames Samoan social organisation and Samoan transnationalism. It defines the matrix within which people, capital, ideas and technologies move between the nodes of ′transnational Samoa′. This matrix of relationships was the foundation of transnational Samoa: it provided the potential for a transnational Samoa, and the practices gave it form. Commitment to kin, expressed in visits and participation in ceremonials, gifts and exchanges, creates, maintains and reflects an active transnationalism. Without these regular and affirming exchanges there is no active transnationalism.

    If kinship is, in effect, the foundation of transnational Samoa, then anything that transforms the character of kinship has...

  10. 5. Travelling Parties: Cook Islanders′ Transnational Movement
    (pp. 91-102)
    Kalissa Alexeyeff

    As in many Polynesian communities Cook Islander social networks are truly transnational. In 2006 only 12,000 Cook Islanders lived within the nation-state, approximately 58,000 Cook Islanders live in New Zealand and an estimated 8,000 in Australia (Cook Islands Statistics 2006; Statistics New Zealand 2006). Familial and community relationships are maintained through frequent phone calls, emails and travel back to the home islands for important occasions such as weddings and funerals, religious celebrations and sports competitions. The mobility of Cook Islanders who reside within the nation-state is also evident in the frequent travel undertaken for business purposes. Government employees and members...

  11. 6. Food and Transnationalism: Reassertions of Pacific Identity
    (pp. 103-114)
    Nancy Pollock

    Food reinforces ties between Pacific peoples and their island homes, while linking them to a wider world. Food globalises while it localises, thereby crossing national boundaries. It links families through exchanges and shared ideologies and diversifies over time and space. Increased options of foods from the land or from the supermarket are part of that diversity. Brands such as McDonalds and Coca-Cola are ′not the tip of some globalizing iceberg, but rather the markers of a particular superordinate level of identity on a par with saving the rainforest′ (Miller 1997, 80). Food is an identity marker that both links families...

  12. 7. Attitudinal Divergence and the Tongan Transnational System
    (pp. 115-132)
    Mike Evans, Paul Harms and Colin Reid

    Although Tonga is small and its impact on the global geo-political stage is limited, the way in which the country fits into the contemporary global system has attracted its share of attention. Since Marcus′ early and cogent observations on the fact of Tongan transnationalism (1981), a great deal of ethnography has been done both in Tonga and with Tongan communities overseas. In just the last 10 years there have been significant full length ethnographies of contemporary Tongan political economy. Evans (2001) and van der Grijp (1993, 2004), for example, have written extensively on the way that the current Tongan economy...

  13. 8. Griffith′s Transnational Fijians: Between the Devil, the Deep Blue Sea…and their Pastors
    (pp. 133-142)
    Mark Schubert

    This chapter is about Fijians and their movements to and from an isolated rural area in Australia (Schubert 2008).¹ Pacific Islanders go to some of the most unlikely, isolated places and form communities and ways of communicating with other like-communities as survival tactics. This occurs in the face of pressures both in their homelands and their ′receiving′ countries. Pacific Islanders endure adverse economic and political conditions at home. Although migration is an apparent solution to this ′squeeze′ (Peutz 2006, 230), Islanders arriving in the United States, Australia and New Zealand find themselves being squeezed by an unforgiving labour market in...

  14. 9. Transnationalism of Merchant Seafarers and their Communities in Kiribati and Tuvalu
    (pp. 143-158)
    Maria Borovnik

    Seafarers cannot be immediately recognised as contributing to the transnationalism of their home countries. Criss-crossing internationalised, de-nationalised and national waters during their employment on merchant vessels and living with multi-national crews, seafarers could rather be seen in many ways as pioneers of global citizenship.¹ Despite the dynamic of their employment and the transversal and circulating movement between home and shipboard communities, seafarers from Kiribati and Tuvalu still maintain strong links to their families and cultures at home. These family and cultural connections include regular remittances, money sent back home, but also in exchange the reception of culturally meaningful material from...

  15. 10. ′I Never Wanted to Come Home′: Skilled Health Workers in the South Pacific
    (pp. 159-178)
    John Connell

    Little has been written on return migration to the island states of the Pacific. More generally and despite its significance in many countries, there is a limited global literature on return migration, and even less that focuses on the return migration of skilled workers. This chapter traces the return migration of skilled health workers, in three Pacific island states (Fiji, Tonga, Samoa) and evaluates the rationale for and consequences of return and their contribution to development. As the short title—the words of a returned health worker—and the opening quotation from the distinguished Samoan author, Albert Wendt, indicate, there is both...

  16. 11. The Impact of Transnationalism on Niue
    (pp. 179-190)
    Vili Nosa

    For many Pacific Islanders, migration is a positive opportunity for individuals to obtain higher standards of living and material possessions not available in their homelands. Pacific states, like many small countries, have come to depend increasingly upon larger metropolitan states such as New Zealand. However, this chapter shows that the consequences of individual migration decisions invariably impact upon the state of Niue, a small Pacific Island state known by its people as ′the rock of Polynesia′. Niue is one of the most extreme cases of depopulation in the Pacific region, in fact there are more Niueans living abroad, mainly in...

  17. 12. ′Getting Out from Under′: Leadership, Conflict Resolution and Tokelau Migration
    (pp. 191-202)
    Ingjerd Hoëm

    In the past three decades, Niue and to a lesser extent the Cook Islands, have figured prominently in the public discourse in Tokelau, in the Tokelau communities overseas, and in administrative circles, about choosing a viable political way for Tokelau. The threat constituted by the example of Niue—as it is represented in discourse in and about Tokelau—is that of a self-governing island state, most of whose able-bodied population are employed in the public service. The negative consequences of this situation are apparent: those who cannot get employment in the public sector leave and as a consequence, the villages...

  18. 13. The View from ′Home′ — Transnational Movements from Three Tongan Villages
    (pp. 203-214)
    Steve Tupai Francis

    In this paper, my goal is to explore the dichotomy of ′home′ and ′host′ posited in studies of transnationalism. I intend to do this by examining the very different forms of migration I found in conducting fieldwork in three Tongan villages. I argue that the view from ′home′ is often a missing aspect in explorations of transnationalism. This is not particularly surprising given the focus in these studies on the networked connections of diasporic peoples and communities. As is documented in this collection, Pacific Islanders have travelled far from Oceania to reside in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and...

  19. Conclusion: The Concept and Circumstances of Pacific Migration and Transnationalism
    (pp. 215-230)
    Camille Nakhid

    Many of the perspectives, processes and outcomes of contemporary Pacific migration and transnationalism resemble their traditional forms, including kinship, food, remittances, work, gifts, interactions, space, territoriality, home, attachments, sustained contact, relationships and inequities. Ka′ili (2005) claims that transnationalism in the Pacific can be traced back to Hawai′i and the god Maui, with Maui being widely represented in the cultural history of most of the Pacific islands. Maui′s ability to sustain ′relationships with many of his relatives who were dispersed yet connected across distant physical spaces′ is reminiscent of the current practices of Pacific transnationalism (Ka′ili, 2005, 2).

    The diverse case...