Although studies have shown that Tongan migrants maintain strong linkages with Tongans in Tonga as well as with their kin in New Zealand, Australia, and the United States, the Tongan concept of vā, social space, has not been used to understand Tongan transnational relations. For Tongans, vā is organized through one's genealogy and kinship ties. The concept of space is central to our understanding of transnationality because global practices involve the movement and flows of people and things within space and across spatial boundaries while people maintain sociospatial connections with one another. Tongans generally view reciprocal exchanges, whether within Tonga or transnational, as tauhi vā: taking care of sociospatial ties with kin and kin-like members. In this article, I explore the concept of vā and the practice of tauhi vā primarily through my research among Tongans in Maui, Hawai'i, as well as my experience with Tongans in Seattle, Washington. I argue that vā and tauhi vā provide us with new spatial concepts for framing our understanding of Tongan transnationality.


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pp. 83-114
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