South Pacific Island Futures: Paradise, Prosperity, or Pauperism?

Ward, R Gerard
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University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Technical changes in air and sea transport since the 1950S have had differential effects within the Pacific Islands region. Many islands are now disadvantaged in relation to a few main centers and core areas. Social, political, and economic changes have occurred, in part as concomitants of transport changes. New patterns of locational advantage for agricultural and commercial activity, education, and aid dependence have fostered internal and international migration, which has been accompanied by considerable social disruption. Overall economic prospects are limited, but the possibilities for niche manufacturing for export are demonstrated by recent Fijian and Samoan experience. Economic and spatial changes have led to modification of de facto land tenure and labor arrangements that may undermine the bases of sociopolitical systems. The implications for indigenous cultures tend to be overlooked by politicians and customary leaders. Education and modern intellectual tools have not been used effectively to understand the cultural changes or to strengthen the viable components of customary ways. Unless this occurs, emigration and the weakening of island cultures may continue, and a form of aid-dependent pauperism may become entrenched.
Pacific Islands, transport, social change, land tenure, cultural change
Ward, R. G. 1993. South Pacific Island Futures: Paradise, Prosperity, or Pauperism? The Contemporary Pacific 5 (1): 1-21.
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