Dissertation Abstract

Environmentally induced migration in Fiji

Bertana, Amanda  2018  

Department of Sociology, University of Utah (United States), 235 pp.


This research is a compilation of ethnographic and ecological accounts of three rural Fijian villages that moved inland as a response to coastal erosion. Using Vunidogoloa and Vunisavisavi on Vanua Levu, and Narikoso on Ono Island, Kadavu, as case studies I show how: (1) communities are affected by the physical and discursive elements of climate change; (2) communities manage their relationship with an increasingly unpredictable and changing environment; and (3) local level actors are working with national and international actors to make environmental decisions. Beyond description and interpretation, I examine how relocation is embedded in themes of power, culture, gender, religion, agency, and political control in respect to local level social fabrics, relationship to the environment, and perceptions of environmental deterioration within Fijian communities.
As a whole, this dissertation illustrates the complexities and heterogeneity of rural people’s perception and experiences with their environment, environmental changes, and adaptation measures. With the distinct case studies, I pay specific attention to the relocation process including: how the Fijian government incorporates communities into environmental decision-making processes, how bureaucratic processes interact with local level hierarchies, how vulnerable populations are disproportionately marginalized by relocation efforts, and the unintended social consequences of relocating a community.