Accepted Paper:

Resisting monetization of land and life: the case of the outer islanders of Yap  


Yasuyuki Karakita (Utsunomiya University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper analyzes how the outer islanders of Yap State, Federated States of Micronesia, living in urban areas raise money to purchase land and pay for medication and funerals. Rather than being an aspect of globalization, the monetization of land and life reinforces ethnic identities of the outer islanders.

Paper long abstract:

This paper reports that the monetization of land and funerals reinforces the ethnic identity of the outer islanders of Yap state, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM).

U.S. policy toward the Trust Territory of Pacific Islands and the Compact of Free Association between the U.S. and FSM poured money into Micronesian societies, characterized as societies with gift economy. The monetization occurred mainly in the government sector located in district centers and state capitals, areas which attracted the outer island population.

Living in urban areas necessitates money for housing, food, and health, which government employees are unable to afford on their salaries. When the government could not provide public housing to migrants from the outer island in the 2000s, employees from this area raised money to secure the land for outer islander communities on the Yap main islands. The traditional trade partners from Yap proper also offered their land to communities from the outer island.

Recently, money became essential for medical treatments and funerals for the outer island patients. When the government morgue service was privatized and their fees became unaffordable, the outer island employees established funds to subsidize the costs of morgue and funeral services. Trading partners from the Yap proper also provided burial places to their outer island partners.

The monetization of land and life has reinforced the ethnic identities of the outer islanders as they struggle for the money indispensable for their urban life; further, the fund-raising practices have been expanded though the migrant network beyond the national boundaries.

Panel P115
The perspective of glocalization: addressing the changing society and culture under globalization