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If Everyone Returned, The Island Would Sink: Urbanisation and Migration in Vanuatu

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Volume 7

Pacific Perspectives: Studies of the European Society for Oceanists

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If Everyone Returned, The Island Would Sink

Urbanisation and Migration in Vanuatu

Kirstie Petrou

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246 pages, 36 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78920-621-0 25% OFF! $120.00/£85.00 $90.00/£63.75 Hb Not Yet Published (February 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78920-622-7 eBook Not Yet Published

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“This is an excellent study of rural/urban migration in the Western Pacific… well-written, free of jargon while scholarly in its approach. It is unique in presenting longitudinal, comparative data.” • Martha Macintyre, The University of Melbourne


Focusing on the small island of Paama, Vanuatu, and the capital, Port Vila, this book presents a rare and recent study of the ongoing significance of urbanization and internal migration in the Global South. Based on longitudinal research undertaken in rural ‘home’ places, urban suburbs and informal settlements, this book reveals the deep ambivalence of the outcome of migration, and argues that the fundamental organizing principles of cultural life – in this case centered on kinship and an ‘island home’ – are significantly more important for urban and rural living than the effects of migration.

Kirstie Petrou is a human geographer and a Research Associate at the Hugo Centre for Migration and Population Research at the University of Adelaide.  Her previous publications include (2017) ‘Before it wasn’t like this…: Longitudinal research and a generation of continuity and change in rural-urban migration in Vanuatu’. Asian and Pacific Migration Journal 26(1): 31-55.

Subject: General Mobility Studies Refugee & Migration Studies
Area: Asia-Pacific


List of Figures


Chapter 1. Urbanisation and Migration: Rapid Change but Enduring Patterns
Chapter 2. Subsistence Realities, Material Dreams: Rural Lives and Livelihoods
Chapter 3. It’s Like We Live in Town Already: Island Social Organisation
Chapter 4. The Everyday Ordinariness of Mobility: Persistent Patterns of Rural Outmigration
Chapter 5. I Just Came to Visit My Kin: The Evolution of Urban Permanence
Chapter 6. Friends, Lovers and Stranger Danger: Urban Social Worlds
Chapter 7. Living on Money: Urban Economic Life

Conclusion. Fluidity and Flexibility: A Generation of Paamese Migration and Urban Experiences


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