The Fertility of Mobility: Impulses from Hawai’i

Yvonne Underhill-Sem

As a concept, mobility has permeated many disciplinary frameworks with the possibilities evident in the variety and continuity of the ebbs and flows of women, men and children. The antiquity and persistence of mobility among people living in the Western Pacific has been a fertile site for the geographical inquiry into mobility beginning with Chap-man in the Solomon Islands (1970) and Bedford in Vanuatu(previously the British New Hebrides) (1973). In the absence of vital statistics and where many languages aside from English co-exit, Pacific population geographers focussed on population mobility and undertook the challenge of working in colonial and post-colonial places. As a direct refutation of Zelinsky’s demographically inspired theory of the mobility transition that cast population mobility and modernisation as intimate companions (Zelinsky, 1971), Chapman and Prothero (1985) were interested in the existence and nature of pre-modern mobility patterns in the Western Pacific. In the energetic scholarly and policy debates around issues of population distribution since that time, the concept of mobility has proved to be both remarkably resilient and remarkably fertile. Few North-based population geographers have actively engaged this literature (but see Lawson, 2000), but the fertility of this early scholarship has been marked by the mobility of population concerns into other sub-disciplinary areas of critical geography. In this brief paper I trace some trajectories from the teachings of population geography at the University of Hawaii that successfully engendered this geographical scholarship at the same time as other American geographers have rendered it insignificant.

Research Type(s)
Journal Article
Submitted by Toksave
March 25, 2021
Published in
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