Pacific migration futures: ancient solutions to contemporary and prospective challenges?

Author: Richard Bedford


Scholarship published by staff and students at the University of the South Pacific has had a profound impact on understandings by researchers of both historical and contemporary transformations in Oceania. This paper contains some reflections by a geographer who has been researching population movement in the region since the mid-1960s. It begins by drawing attention to seminal writing by the late Epeli Hau’ofa in the 1980s and 1990s, and traces the impact of some of Hau’ofa’s messages about regional integration and identity in Oceania in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Reference is made to another very significant collection of essays by scholars, students, politicians and government officials linked with the USP in 2015 which explores what is being called ‘the new Pacific diplomacy’. Like the discourse generated by Waddell, Naidu and Hau’ofa’s (1993) A New Oceania: Rediscovering our Sea of Islands, ideas reported in Fry and Tarte’s (2015) The New Pacific Diplomacy have the potential to shift thinking about identities, regional co-operation and migration in Oceania.

Keywords: Hau’ofa; sea of islands; Pacific integration; borders; international migration; futures

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