Farms, Suburbs, or Retirement Homes? The Transformation of Village Fiji

Overton, John
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Fijian villages and village life are at the core of Fijian society and culture. Yet there has been much recent change in villages as a result of greater commercialization of land, labor, and agriculture. This paper draws on studies of two villages to demonstrate the range of economic responses being made by villagers and the consequences for village society. Attempts to encourage commercial farming on village land have been severely constrained by land shortage and land tenure practices that limit the size of landholdings. As alternatives, people are leaving to find wage work elsewhere, whether on a permanent, medium-term, or daily basis. Others are returning to the villages to retire after a long period of working in towns. One consequence is a great variety in household incomes and daily work patterns. In these circumstances, Fijian villages can be seen as retaining their form, but often not their communal substance; they are just as much low-cost suburbs and retirement homes as they are centers for old-style subsistence agriculture. As these economic and social entities become more diverse and complex, so too must policies designed to improve the lot of their inhabitants.
Fiji, village
Overton, J. 1993. Farms, Suburbs, or Retirement Homes? The Transformation of Village Fiji. The Contemporary Pacific 5 (1): 45-74.
Access Rights
Email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.