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Title: Beyond Governance in Samoa: Understanding Samoan Political Thought 
Author: Huffer, Elise; So'o, Asofou
Date: 2005
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Huffer, E., and A. So’o. 2005. Beyond Governance in Samoa: Understanding Samoan Political Thought. The Contemporary Pacific 17 (2): 311-33.
Abstract: In the Samoan polity today, the indigenous institution of the matai (chiefs) continues
to play a pivotal role in governance. In determining leadership, the fa‘asämoa
(Samoan way) and the fa‘amatai (way of the chiefs) are the most influential
factors. Yet this has not prevented Sämoa from experiencing governance problems
found in other countries of the region, although perhaps on a lesser scale:
misunderstanding, frustration, alienation, migration, discrimination, malpractice,
patronage, and violence. Reasons for this may be (1) a lack of correspondence
between fa‘asämoa and liberal democracy; (2) a lack of general understanding
and critical assessment of the principles of liberal democracy in Sämoa; (3) a combination
of misuse, abuse, or misunderstanding of fa‘asämoa; and (4) a lack of
publicity and critical assessment of the principles of fa‘asämoa. This paper examines
aspects of these four characteristics of the Samoan polity and looks at ways
of reassessing governance. It draws on literature that deals with some of the main
features of Samoan political thought, as well as on discussions with Samoan
scholars and thinkers. This introduction to a different approach to Samoan governance
also briefly reviews some of the political forces and tensions at play in
Sämoa to show how they impact current political conceptualization.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Keywords: Samoa, democracy, fa'amatai, fa'asamoa, political thought, philosophy, governance
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.

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