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Samoan understandings of movement

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Title:Samoan understandings of movement
Authors:Lilomaiava-Doktor, Sa`iliemanu
Date Issued:2015
Publisher:Otago University Press
Citation:Lilomaiava-Doktor, S. (2015). Samoan understandings of movement. In Oceanian Journeys and Sojourns: Home thoughts abroad. Otago University Press, pp. 67-92.

Migration research in Oceania has produced a problematic genre that continues to be dominated by conceptions of population movement occurring between two poles: the rural and urban, or village and metropolitan areas. Embedded in migration assumptions are notions of individualism, social disjuncture and the primacy of economic motivations as understood in capitalist terms. Rather than construct movement and identity of people in places rural or urban, or framed by the bipolar model of settler and sojourner, this study goes beyond such polarities. Through an analysis of how a culture, in this case fa`a-Samoa (Samoan way of life/culture), integrates movement, `aiga (household, family, kin group) and configurations of mobility, I argue that embodied experience is central to Samoan identities as exemplified in local metaphors of movement, identity and place.

This paper focuses on Samoan understandings of malaga (journeyings, movement back and forth) and offers a detailed examination of kinds of mobility and their different configurations.1 In the following, I attempt to elucidate the interconnected links between the social, spiritual, political and economic aspects of malaga and its relation to `aiga and place. The cultural dimensions and essence of movement are the primary concern here, with a focus on the connections that people establish and re-establish as they move. This paper draws on interviews conducted over 18 months of primary fieldwork in a Samoan village, Salelologa on Savai`i, the big island of Samoa (see Map 3.1) with members in Auckland, New Zealand, and Santa Ana, California.2 It also describes the extent of past as well as recent movement between Salelologa, the rest of Samoa and overseas. Circularity remains a significant part of the Salelologa movement experience, irrespective of the gender or generation of those who move.

Pages/Duration:27 pages
Appears in Collections: Lilomaiva-Doktor, Sa`iliemanu

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