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Planting roots, making place: an ethnography of young men in Port Vila, Vanuatu

Kraemer, Daniela (2013) Planting roots, making place: an ethnography of young men in Port Vila, Vanuatu. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

This thesis is about an organised group or ‘squad’ of young men in Port Vila, the capital of the Pacific Islands nation-state of Vanuatu, and their practices of place making in the rapidly developing context of ‘town’. The young men studied are second-generation migrants and thus first-generation born and raised ‘urbanites'. Based on twenty months of fieldwork, this thesis examines how these young men are transforming Freswota Community - the residential area in which they live - from a place with no shared and relevant social meaning into a place imbued with greater collective significance. First, I demonstrate how these young men experience themselves as ‘unplaced’, a condition which entails two aspects. They are displaced from the social structure and kinship systems within which their parents previously ordered their lives and from which they have drawn their social identity. Additionally, the young men experience themselves as marginalised from the formal education and employment structures of town. Following this, I show that it is through practices of place making, which they refer to as ‘planting roots’, that these young men are emplacing themselves in the Freswota area. ‘Planting roots’ includes such processes as developing their own shared history, naming roads, building topogeny and developing their own community social structure and social order. I argue that these processes are leading to the emergence of a new phenomenon: primary town emplacement. By coming into relationship with Freswota land, these young men are not only transforming it from virtual no-place into some place, they are also transforming themselves from ‘unplaced’ persons into emplaced ‘Freswota men’. I conclude that this is generating a new locative identity: it is now the Freswota community rather than their parents’ home island places that is emerging as their primary location of belonging and the source both of their sense of self and their social identification. A central aim of this thesis is to draw attention to the positive and creative ways in which unemployed young men, usually criticised and stigmatised as delinquents in newly and rapidly urbanising contexts, are actively engaged in developing their community and their relationships in order to live more viable and socially productive lives.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Daniela Kraemer
Library of Congress subject classification: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Scott, Michael W. and Allerton, Catherine
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/825

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