Pacific Diaspora: Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific, and: Constructing Moral Communities: Pacific Islander Strategies for Settling in New Places (review)
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The Contemporary Pacific 16.1 (2004) 178-182



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Pacific Diaspora: Island Peoples in the United States and Across the Pacific, edited by Paul Spickard, Joanne L Rondilla, and Debbie Hippolite Wright. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2002. ISBNcloth, 0-8248-2562-4; paper, 0-8248-2619-1; viii + 384 pages, tables, photographs, figures, maps, notes, bibliography, index. Cloth,US$60.00; paper,US$24.95.
Constructing Moral Communities: Pacific Islander Strategies for Settling in New Places, edited by Judith S Modell. Special issue of PacificStudies 25:1-2, March/June 2002. ISSN 0275-3596,ISBN 0-939154-68-4, viii + 221 pages, tables, glossary, notes, bibliography. US$15.00.

Brigham Young University-Hawai'i (BYUH) was involved in the publication of both these books. That institution has provided more university education for Pacific Islanders than any other in North America. Pacific Diaspora is the third book to emerge from a BYUH initiative (Pacific Islander Americans Research Project) led by Paul Spickard. Moral Communities was published by theBYUH journal, Pacific Studies, after developing from a series of Association for Social Anthropology in Oceania sessions. Pacific Diaspora presents mainly "insider views" (by members of the communities concerned), and Moral Communities is mainly by external observers. Both approaches yield valuable insights, but Pacific Diaspora is particularly welcome because insider views are seldom published.

The books are not only about migrants. Almost half the chapters are on Hawaiian and Maori minorities in their own countries and localities. Despite similarities with the situations of migrants, there are enough differences that they may have been better in a separate volume.

Although the titles imply that both books are about the Pacific Islands generally, 27 of the total 34 chapters are about Polynesians of Hawai'i, New Zealand, Samoa, Tonga, and two Polynesian outliers. None are about Cook Islands, Easter Island, Niue, Pitcairn, Tokelau, or Wallis and Futuna, from all of which most people have migrated (86 percent from the Cook Islands, and 96 percent from Niue), nor about Tuvalu or French Polynesia, or possibly the largest category of migrants from the Pacific Islands—the Fiji Indians.

There are 2 chapters on Micronesians, 1 on Filipinos, and 4 general chapters, but none about Melanesians, who constitute the great majority of Pacific Islanders. Equal representation is never possible, and the imbalance does not detract from the value of the studies presented. However, one hopes that Melanesian migration (which has been extensive within and between nations for over a hundred years) will be as well studied before long.

Paul Spickard's excellent introduction to Pacific Diaspora outlines six clusters of chapters—on identity, motives for migration and linkages with home, cultural transformations, gender and sexuality, social problems of migrants, and Hawaiian nationalism. He traces the history of Pacific migration to the United States, and the colonial, economic, educational, religious, and strategic linkages that facilitated it. [End Page 178]

The book uses several models for possible interpretation of the data. First is the "immigrant assimilation model" in which the main trend is for the immigrant to be absorbed into the host society; second, the "transnational or diasporic model," which emphasizescontinuinglinks with one's people at home or elsewhere abroad (which is easier for the wealthy, and for all as communications improve); and the "panethnicity model" (common interest groups forged between immigrants from a common region, such as "Pasefika people" in New Zealand or Latinos in the United States).

The panethnicity model is more pronounced among second and third generation Pacific Islander migrants. They interact and intermarry more, as discussed in chapter 2 on multiethnicity, which highlights the selectivity with which people of multiple ancestry emphasize various aspects of genetic and cultural heritage, including language, expressive arts, values, and cultural practices. While accepting elements of all these and other ideal models, Spickard considers the transnational or diasporic model particularly relevant toPacificIslanders in the United States. Partly that is because most of them are recent migrants during a period of rising incomes...


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