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Of social construction, politics and biology: population geographies in the Pacific

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Sustained challenges by third world, black and feminist scholars have unsettled the established agenda of the social sciences in the 1990s. Unfortunately, population geographies in the Pacific have failed to engage with these debates. By avoiding the metaphysical challenges posed by contemporary theoretical debates, often by people from previously marginalised groups, population geographies have failed to provide the spark necessary for the dynamic expansion of ideas. However, an analysis of population geographies in the Pacific, almost all of which are mobility studies, reveals important contributions for advancing a more critical population geography. This paper begins with a critical review of population geography in general then looks more specifically at population geographies, mostly mobility studies, in the Pacific. It advances the argument that the humanist geographers Chapman and Bonnemaison have made critical contributions in reconceptualising population mobility. Further advances would benefit from an engagement with feminist geography and post-structural discourse analysis.

Keywords: Pacific; feminist geography; mobility; population geography

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Department of Geography, University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. E-mail: Residence: P.O. Box 240, Apia, Samoa. E-mail:

Publication date: April 1, 1999


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