Australian South Sea Islanders’ narratives of belonging

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This chapter examines how the narrative of ASSI identity has developed, as an Australian ethnic group, as Pacific Islanders who have reconnected with their islands of origin aver the last fifty years, and as part of a larger diaspora of indigenous peoples dislodged from their homes as part of labour migration related to nineteenth capitalism and forced labour migration. ASSI by-and-large interpret their history through a narrative of kidnapping and slavery which is at odds with Pacific historians who for the last fifty years have stressed Islander agency and voluntary participation in labour migration, albeit with an early phase of illegal and often violent recruitment. The specific points addressed in this chapter relate to origins, the difference of opinion with academic historians, semantic differences in the use of words, identity as both Australian and Pacific peoples, and contemporary political agendas.


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