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Radio and the Redefinition of Kastom in Vanuatu

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Title:Radio and the Redefinition of Kastom in Vanuatu
Authors:Bolton, Lissant
oral traditions
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LC Subject Headings:Oceania -- Periodicals.
Date Issued:1999
Publisher:University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation:Bolton, L. 1999. Radio and the Redefinition of Kastom in Vanuatu. The Contemporary Pacific 11 (2): 335-60.
Abstract:This paper traces the development of radio broadcasting in Vanuatu, arguing
that radio was critical to the development of ideas of Vanuatu-as-nation among
the residents of the archipelago. From its inception, radio broadcast kastommaterial
understood to derive from the place itself, such as local songs and stories-
and in broadcasting it contributed to the development of a complex understanding
of kastom itself. By this means kastom was defined as expressive of
national unity as well as regional diversity, and as a basis of identity; the presentation
of kastom on the radio has provided Islanders with a point of connection
with the new context of the nation. In tracing the history and significance
of the broadcast of kastom, the paper argues that radio developed a distinctive
form in Vanuatu, not addressing a passive and private listener, but rather interacting
with an audience that engaged with the radio through correspondence and
other contributions, and through both sending and· responding to service messages.
In 1994 this was overturned by creation of the Vanuatu Television and
Broadcasting Corporation, which was designed to conform with western commercial
models of radio. The consequent cutting of kastom programs resulted in
a significant and locally acknowledged disenfranchisement of rural Ni-Vanuatu.
Appears in Collections: TCP [The Contemporary Pacific], 1999 - Volume 11, Number 2

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