Bula!

This blog post comes to you from Nadi, in sunny Fiji. For me, the warmth and sunshine is particularly welcome after a kiwi winter, although it is not an easy time for Fijians who are facing a drought.

I am in Fiji for 10 days visiting Emma, a PhD student working on the Fiji tourism case study that is part of our Marsden-funded research on Corporate Community Development. I’m here to see what she is doing, to get an overview of her findings to date, and to work with her on some data collection. In the past week we have visited two villages to bring a sevusevu (gifts of kava to the chiefs, seeking permission from them to talk to people in the villages about the research); got well-sunburned during an unexpected interview on the beach at Denerau; sat, talked and had kava with a local family; been to a school fundraiser here in Nadi, and visited another rural school to talk to the headmaster … and that was just the ‘community’ side. We’ve also had a look inside two hotels and talked to staff involved in CSR, and had a meeting with the General Manager of a hotel to present preliminary findings. Today the research task is following a group of tourists on a village and school tour. Another way of ‘reversing the lens’!DSC02111

The whole experience has been incredibly interesting. I’ve learned a lot about Fiji and Fijian culture, gained some insights into the impact of the tourism industry here, and developed a whole new set of questions about uneven development, inequality and the meaning of development. There are huge differences, and not only the obvious ones between tourists and locals. There are significant differences within Fiji related to lease arrangements, employment and education opportunities, and access and so on. These are issues we will be considering further in this research, but they also link in to the material I’ve been teaching in the Development and Inequality course. It has certainly given me a lot of food for thought, and plenty to consider as I prepare for my next trip, back to PNG.

note taking

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