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Prometheus on the Fortunate Isles - A Human Ecological Study on Environment, Culture and Identity in Samoa

Nevander, Louise LU and Nevander, Anna (2015) HEKX01 20151
Human Ecology
Abstract
The thesis is centered around an eight week long minor field study conducted on the Polynesian Islands of Samoa in 2010. Samoa is one of the worlds least developed countries according to the UN. However; people do not starve in Samoa. In Samoa, most land is still communaly owned, and every Samoan has through family ties access to so called customary lands. Moreover, customary land is inalienable in Samoa, that is, it cannot be bought or sold.
In 2008, the government of Samoa introduced a new bill concerning registration of customary lands, the LTRA 2008. The registration of customary lands opens up for the possibility of abandoning the inalienable status of the customary lands. Regarding this, some people have expressed a fear that this... (More)
The thesis is centered around an eight week long minor field study conducted on the Polynesian Islands of Samoa in 2010. Samoa is one of the worlds least developed countries according to the UN. However; people do not starve in Samoa. In Samoa, most land is still communaly owned, and every Samoan has through family ties access to so called customary lands. Moreover, customary land is inalienable in Samoa, that is, it cannot be bought or sold.
In 2008, the government of Samoa introduced a new bill concerning registration of customary lands, the LTRA 2008. The registration of customary lands opens up for the possibility of abandoning the inalienable status of the customary lands. Regarding this, some people have expressed a fear that this change in the system of land ownership will not only lead to an abandonment of the customary land system, but also to the abandonment of the traditional Samoan culture and system of sharing, the Fa ́a Samoa, since the sharing of land and resources is percieved as being the heart of the cultural system, also referred to as a system of belonging.
In the study the emotions and associations that underlie how Samoans relate to land are investigated, and how these might change given an introduction of Western land ownership concepts. Also the consequenses of such a change are discussed.
The results of the study show that Samoans are psychologically more connected to their land and environment than Westerners, that is, not to nature in a general sense, but to a specific environment, to place, to a specific piece of land, to a physically identifiable place or piece of land. In a psychological sense, they belong, they are rooted in a way that we in the West are generally not. Moreover, with the implementation of LTRA 2008, customary lands might become alienable.
The main conclucions drawn from the study are that there is a difference between being connected to a specific environment and being connected to nature in general, and that the possibility of alienation of customary lands has the potential of offsetting a fundamental transformation of how Samoans relate to and deal with land issues and also of the Samoan society and culture as a whole. If customary lands become alienable, Samoans risk losing their connectedness with a specific piece of land. If so, they will become more alienated from their environment, from their culture, and also from their identity as Samoans. (Less)
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author
Nevander, Louise LU and Nevander, Anna
supervisor
organization
course
HEKX01 20151
year
type
H1 - Master's Degree (One Year)
subject
keywords
Customary lands, inalienable, human ecology, systems theory, Samoa, alienation
language
English
id
5467259
date added to LUP
2015-06-26 13:29:52
date last changed
2015-06-26 13:29:52
@misc{5467259,
  abstract     = {The thesis is centered around an eight week long minor field study conducted on the Polynesian Islands of Samoa in 2010. Samoa is one of the worlds least developed countries according to the UN. However; people do not starve in Samoa. In Samoa, most land is still communaly owned, and every Samoan has through family ties access to so called customary lands. Moreover, customary land is inalienable in Samoa, that is, it cannot be bought or sold.
In 2008, the government of Samoa introduced a new bill concerning registration of customary lands, the LTRA 2008. The registration of customary lands opens up for the possibility of abandoning the inalienable status of the customary lands. Regarding this, some people have expressed a fear that this change in the system of land ownership will not only lead to an abandonment of the customary land system, but also to the abandonment of the traditional Samoan culture and system of sharing, the Fa ́a Samoa, since the sharing of land and resources is percieved as being the heart of the cultural system, also referred to as a system of belonging.
In the study the emotions and associations that underlie how Samoans relate to land are investigated, and how these might change given an introduction of Western land ownership concepts. Also the consequenses of such a change are discussed.
The results of the study show that Samoans are psychologically more connected to their land and environment than Westerners, that is, not to nature in a general sense, but to a specific environment, to place, to a specific piece of land, to a physically identifiable place or piece of land. In a psychological sense, they belong, they are rooted in a way that we in the West are generally not. Moreover, with the implementation of LTRA 2008, customary lands might become alienable.
The main conclucions drawn from the study are that there is a difference between being connected to a specific environment and being connected to nature in general, and that the possibility of alienation of customary lands has the potential of offsetting a fundamental transformation of how Samoans relate to and deal with land issues and also of the Samoan society and culture as a whole. If customary lands become alienable, Samoans risk losing their connectedness with a specific piece of land. If so, they will become more alienated from their environment, from their culture, and also from their identity as Samoans.},
  author       = {Nevander, Louise and Nevander, Anna},
  keyword      = {Customary lands,inalienable,human ecology,systems theory,Samoa,alienation},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Prometheus on the Fortunate Isles - A Human Ecological Study on Environment, Culture and Identity in Samoa},
  year         = {2015},
}