Journal article

Sister Communities: Rejecting Labels of Informality and Peripherality in Vanuatu

Jennifer Day

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research | Wiley | Published : 2020


Some labels have dire consequences. This article takes issue with the labels commonly used to describe the physical and social location of communities living on the edge of Port Vila, Vanuatu—labels that position communities for eviction by entrenching tropes of informality and peripherality into how they are seen and represented. Such terms include informal, settlement, informal settlement, squatter and peri-urban. Based on interviews with around 100 people and two years of ethnographic engagement with urban communities in Port Vila, Vanuatu, I critique the language of policy against the lived experience of those at the urban edge. I use Bourdieu's articulation of power as an accumulation o..

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Funding Acknowledgements

I would like to thank the Elang Etas Community Association and members of the Elang Etas community who have enabled me to write about their experiences. Special thanks go to Sam Tabawa, the late Wycliff Tarilenga, Jenny Sale, Brian Merah, Margaret Seule and Meriam Tabawa-but this is by no means an exhaustive list. Melisa Hango has been my constant friend and colleague and has always been there when I needed her. Thanks also to the following reviewers for their contributions to the article: the Pacific Interest Group (PIG) at the University of Melbourne, including excellent comments by Sergio Jarillo and Monica Minnegal; Sophie Sturup for her language and thoughtfulness; Ihnji Jon for some pointers into the literature; David Week for his excellent suggestions on decolonizing the article; and Margaretha Wewerinke-Singh for helping me see past urban studies. Thanks, finally, to the anonymous IJURR reviewers, whose comments markedly improved the article. I am especially grateful to the referee who helped me to summarize my purpose better than I could do it myself. This work was funded in part by the University of Melbourne and the Regional Studies Association. The University of Melbourne provided travel funding, and the RSA funded some of my engagements (workshops and training) with the Elang Etas community as part of a Research Network Grant for the RSA Research Network on Academic-Practitioner Collaboration for Urban Settlements, South Pacific (APCUS-SP). These events built trust between me and the community and helped me to improve my understanding of their work.