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close this section of the library Lin, Hao-Li


View the PDF document Vanua as environment : conservation, farming, and development in Waitabu, Fiji
Author:Lin, Hao-Li
Institution: University of Pittsburg, USA
Award: Ph.D.
Subject: Land use, Rural -- Management -- Fiji -- Taveuni, Agriculture -- Fiji -- Taveuni, Land use, Rural -- Economic aspects -- Fiji -- Taveuni
Date: 2015
Call No.: pac HD 1126 .L56 2016
BRN: 1208159
Copyright:Over 80% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: This dissertation examines the idea of “environment” in Waitabu, an indigenous Fijian community on Taveuni Island, and how it influences the community’s participation in contemporary development projects. My main argument is that vanua (a Fijian concept often translated as “land” but which also encompasses people, community, and custom) is an important framework through which the community negotiates social and biological changes through time. In other words, it is an “environment” in its totality. I also argue that contrary to common understanding, vanua is a dynamic entity shaped by historical events rather than a set of rigid customary protocols, thus creating different trajectories of engagement with development projects. Two particular cases are analyzed here: 1) the “Waitabu Marine Park” conservation and ecotourism project; 2) the grassroots cash-cropping schemes and subsistence farming in the village. This study treats vanua as an “entangled environment” that involves historical configurations of indigenous identities and politics, as well as foreign contacts and colonial governance. This historical perspective allows for a more holistic and dynamic view of how rural development projects operate in seemingly simplistic and isolated places today. As projects introduce new ways to manage natural resources, the historical and cultural connotations of the environment are being evoked and realigned in response to these engagements. For example, for Vanua as Environment: Conservation, Farming, and Development in Waitabu, Fiji Hao-Li Lin, PhD University of Pittsburgh, 2015 v Waitabu villagers, the marine park is seen as not just a conservation project, but a way to recapture their marginalized identity. In the grassroots cash-cropping schemes, vanua plays a crucial role in keeping the community together in the face of challenges from globalization, while individual farmers are able to pursue their own export business opportunities. With a focus on vanua as an environmental framework, this dissertation links anthropological theories of environment with the emergent literature of “entanglement.” The “environment” is seen as an open-ended site where interactions between different ideas and agencies are constantly taking place. While many studies highlight the dimensions of conflict and collision, here I argue that different values and events have long been intertwined in an “entangled environment” that provides the capacity for flexible arrangements and negotiations in response to contemporary development issues.
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