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Paper short abstract:
This paper discusses the experience of being left behind from the perspective of urban squatters in Fiji. Drawing upon ongoing ethnographic fieldwork I analyse how Fiji's urban poor experience inequality and how they develop socialities and economic strategies in order to secure their livelihoods.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper I discuss the practical experience of being left behind from the perspective of informal urban settlers in western Fiji. Drawing upon ongoing ethnographic fieldwork I demonstrate how the notion of being 'left behind' have multiple meanings both in symbolic and practical terms for this growing demographic of urban squatters. On one level many of my interlocutors explained that they had been drawn to towns and cities by a fear of being left behind in villages that offered few opportunities for economic improvement, personal freedom or social mobility. On another their everyday experience of living at the fringe of the urban is often described as a struggle to keep up and gain access to basics. In my analysis I engage with these discourses as forms of local heuristics pointing me towards new insights about how Fiji's urban poor not only experience inequality but also how they develop new forms of socialities and economic strategies in order to overcome socio-economic disadvantage and secure their livelihoods. More broadly I use this particular study to reflect on how research data on the everyday economic practice of disadvantaged people can be operationalised politically and inform social justice discourses.
'Left behind places': unequal social trajectories of progress
Session 1 Wednesday 4 September, 2019, -