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Dilemmas of development in Oceania: the political economy of the Tongan agro-export sector

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This article critically engages with the recent diffusion of the orthodox development model in Oceania and highlights some evolving dilemmas. In particular, it explores the social, economic and ecological tensions arising from economic reforms that are exacerbating the fragility of already vulnerable nation-states and communities. In order to illustrate its arguments, a case study of the impacts of agro-export growth in Tonga is presented. Attention is drawn to the socially inequitable and ecologically unsustainable outcomes of rapid growth in this sector. In analyzing the political economy of the squash pumpkin sector, the authors point to the important role that culture plays in mediating and conditioning development outcomes. Reflecting on the Tongan case, it is argued that to better understand the implications of orthodox developmental reform in the region, research must seek to more explicitly incorporate distributional and ethical analysis.

Keywords: Tonga; agro-exports; culture; development; environment; political economy

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Development Studies, Massey University, New Zealand, 2: Institute of Geography, Victoria University, PO Box 600, Wellington, New Zealand

Publication date: December 1, 2001


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