Cities of Parts, Cities Apart? Changing Places in Modern Melanesia

Connell, John
Lea, John
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University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Melanesian urbanization is primarily postcolonial, occurring after colonial restrictions on migration and city growth. Recency, impermanence, discontinuity, and differences between places and cultures characterize city life. Culture influences socioeconomic organization; gangs rather than unions cut across social ties, insecurity strengthens identity, and the growing squatter settlements refine and define ethnic distinctiveness. Ideology reinforces rural ties. Security concerns have introduced new divisions. Modern dress, lifestyles, and language have shaped new identities, yet tribal and regional affiliations are more important than national identity. Melanesian cities are intricately subdivided places where ethnicity and cultural identity triumph over class. They are a peripheral part of the world capitalist economy where modernity challenges tradition and local resistance. Fragmented planning systems, weak or missing municipal governments, and inadequate finance have led to breakdowns in urban service delivery, mismanagement, diversity, and spontaneity. Melanesian urbanism emphasizes historical specificity, plurality, difference, and incoherence.
Connell, J., and J. Lea. 1994. Cities of Parts, Cities Apart? Changing Places in Modern Melanesia. The Contemporary Pacific 6 (2): 267-309.
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