Islands, idylls and the detours of development
Abstract:Editors’ Note: The following is the sixth in the Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography Lecture Series. It is based on the plenary presentation at the International Geographical Union Conference in Brisbane, Australia on 5 July 2006.
A passing parade of paradigms imported from distant places has failed to bring development to small islands and island states in the Pacific. Insularity might once have suggested purity, but more extended resource frontiers and other external pressures have challenged illusory benefits of ‘isolation’. Failures of development, seemingly crystallized in the ‘arc of instability’, have brought new and more direct external intervention as regional geopolitics have been recast, despite the failure of earlier ‘foreign flowers’. These have been paralleled by a new outward urge and simultaneous emergence of alternative indigenous responses at various scales, mostly encapsulated within indigenous ‘cultural turns’ and ‘economic turns’. Older versions of syncretism and hybridity have taken more cultural and economic forms, in various contexts of disengagement and restructuring, which offer positive development outcomes and suggest the need for new, more culturally relevant dimensions and directions for development practice and theory.