ANTHROPOLOGY COLLOQUIUM SERIES
Monday, March 16th at 12:00 pm in the Anthropology Lounge, 3106 WWPH
PhD Candidate, University of Pittsburgh
Vanua as Environment: Conservation, Farming, and Development in Waitabu, Fiji
A public dissertation presentation
This talk examines the indigenous Fijian concept vanua and how it affects the engagement and perception of contemporary development projects of a small coastal village called Waitabu. Commonly translated as “land,” vanua involves broader meanings such as community, identity, and custom. In other words, it is about the interconnectedness within a holistic environment. Therefore, concerns of ancestors, identity, ritual efficacy, and customary ownership – things often neglected by foreign development workers – are all crucial to understand why the villagers actively conserve their marine ecosystem and engage in commercial farming. Moreover, this interconnectedness is not static, but dynamic and involving. As Lin points out, rather than being treated as a rigid set of customary protocols, vanua should be seen as an open-ended and flexible environmental framework that has long been shaped by prehistoric migrations, foreign contacts, indigenous politics, and colonialism. These processes give vanua the capacity to accommodate introduced ideas and allow for the maintenance of cultural integrity. This research has significant implications for the understanding of indigenous responses to contemporary global development projects.
Location and Address
Anthropology Lounge, 3106 WWPH