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New book examines global winds of change in Samoa

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New book examines global winds of change blowing through Samoa and the Pacific

From fales to fridges, coconut palms to cell phones, Samoa is a country in the midst of globalisation and technological change.

The Warm Winds of Change: Globalisation in Contemporary Samoa (Auckland University Press), an absorbing study of the impact of this worldwide phenomenon on a small island nation by Cluny and La‘avasa Macpherson, was launched last night at the 11th Pacific Islands Political Studies Association Conference in Auckland, New Zealand.

Although Samoa is often portrayed as a remote set of islands apparently untouched by the modern world, this is something of a misrepresentation. As the commodity and consumer culture permeates the world and technological advances become ever more widely available, global villages are seeing their time-honoured way of life and cultural practices shift. As the world changes, so too does the small island nation of Samoa.

“The ‘global’ economy has a direct and obvious impact on ‘local’ daily life,” say the Macphersons, who spend part of each year living in Samoa.

“These global influences are changing the rules of social, political and economic organisation in ways that neither of us anticipated even ten years ago.”

And, say the authors, their findings have more general significance across the Pacific.

“Many Pacific states have similar ecosystems, and demographic, social and political and economic profiles. Most confront similar external agencies, expatriate populations, patron states, international financial organisation and global non-governmental organisations, all of which constrain their development options.”

While the importance of each of these factors, and the ways in which they interact, may vary from one location to another, there are likely to be significant similarities in the processes, options and outcomes throughout the region. Factors that impact on contemporary Samoa are also occurring elsewhere in the contemporary Pacific, albeit at different rates.

“In concentrating on processes at work in a society with which we are familiar,” they say, and bearing in mind the diversity of the Pacific nations, “we hope to identify factors that may throw light on the dynamics of transformation as it occurs elsewhere in the region.”

The Macphersons have been researching the development of small island states in the Pacific, particularly Samoa, and the social and economic consequences of migration and settlement in the region for over 30 years.

Cluny, born and bred in New Zealand, first went as a VSA teacher to Samoa in 1965. Since then he has travelled in, researched and taught about the Pacific Region. La‘avasa grew up in Samoa before migrating to New Zealand where she worked as a nurse before becoming engaged in research. The Macphersons were married in Suva, Fiji, in 1970.

Research and family interests mean they now divide their lives between New Zealand and Samoa. Outside their research work, they grow feijoa and raise sheep on the edge of the Mahurangi Harbour, north of Auckland. La‘avasa also runs a small farm-stay operation for visitors who want a taste of New Zealand rural life. In Samoa, they are refurbishing the family home and exploring new crop possibilities. For nearly two decades they have also worked each year as lecturers on cruise ships in the Pacific.

The Warm Winds of Change: Globalisation in Contemporary Samoa
Cluny and La‘avasa Macpherson
Published by Auckland University Press
Paperback; ISBN 9781869404451; RRP $45

ENDS

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