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Why we come & go: the journeying of Pacific Island people

The Clocktowers clock

Friday, 29 May 2015 3:43pm

Bennett cover

Interconnection with others, and ways of knowing the home place and the world, are intimately related to acts of journeying among Pacific Island people. Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns: Home thoughts abroad edited by Professor Judith Bennett, from the University of Otago’s History Department, explores how Pacific Island people – Oceanians –conceive of a range of journeys.

Firmly grounded in human experience, Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns includes contributors’ personal observations and fieldwork encounters. More than half the contributors are Oceanian themselves and more than half are women.

‘The book aims to shed light on why Pacific Island people move around and how journeying is interpreted by different island cultures: whether the journeys are across great distances and for long periods; or whether they are proximate and short term,’ says Professor Bennett.

‘Journeys indicate the interconnection with others, with members of a family or village. Reciprocity, key to these relationships, speaks to the importance of the group, rather than the individual. Ties continue even when migrating. People seek better opportunities abroad yet also send home money and gifts and visit for significant occasions, because their journeys are not solely for personal reasons, but for the wider family’s welfare.’

In addition to considering human mobility in various island locales, these essays deal with the interconnections of culture, identity and academic investigation and address the challenges of doing research in Oceania for Pacific peoples and researchers from other places.

Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns: Home thoughts abroad advances our appreciation of the meaning of mobility in an Oceanic context. A greater understanding of how movement and journeys are interpreted by Pacific Island people humanises the journeying. This collection of essays provides valuable insight for those who interact informally, as well as formally, with Pacific Island people, whether as friends, colleagues, employers or government agencies.

For further information, contact:

Rhian Gallagher
Tel 64 3 479 9094

A list of Otago experts available for media comment is available elsewhere on this website.

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