Alan & Jan


Diaspora and Identity Issues: Rotuma

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Additional Publications by Jan Rensel


Rotumans in Fiji: The Genesis of an Ethnic Group (1971) Download PDF
This article is concerned with the degree to which Rotumans formed viable ethnic communities after migrating to urban centers in Fiji, the organizational forms that developed there, and the extent to which ethnic consciousness was created under varying conditions.

Pacific-Based Virtual Communities: Rotuma on the World Wide Web (1999) Download PDF
Using data from Rotumans on the Internet, this paper is an exploration of the potential of the World Wide Web to establish and maintain virtual communities through electronic communication.

Where Has Rotuman Culture Gone? And What is it Doing There? (2001) Download PDF
This article explores the now-problematic concept of "culture" and related terms in the context of a diffuse transnational Rotuman population, more than three-fourths of whom now live abroad in Fiji, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the United States, and Europe.

Rotuman Identity in the Electronic-Age (2004) Download PDF
In contrast to Pacific Islands populations that have developed what I label "strong identities," in reference to contexts within which cultural affiliation is salient both for political maneuvering and for individuals' self-concepts, in this paper I make a case for Rotumans having a comparatively weak cultural identity, and document the conditions that have led to this relatively lesser sense of cultural self-awareness.

Issues of Concern to Rotumans Abroad: A View from the Rotuma Website (2012) Download PDF
An article based primarily on postings from the Rotuma Website, which I created in 1996. Our focus is on postings that reflect expatriates' views on issues that implicate their relationship to Rotuma as an ancestral home and as a key icon of their cultural identity.

Rotumans in Australia and New-Zealand: The Problem of Community Formation (2014)
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Following World War II, a steady stream of Rotumans, many of them married to white spouses, emigrated and formed communities in urban settings like Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland and elsewhere, where they have been remarkably successful. Their very success in the workforce, along with high rates of intermarriage and dispersed households, makes getting together a challenging prospect,
requiring strong motivation, effective leadership, and a commitment to preserving their Rotuman cultural heritage.

The Rotuman Experience with Reverse Migration (2017) Download PDF
This paper is based on responses to a questionnaire concerning migration experiences and attitudes administered to 90 individuals on the island of Rotuma in 2012 by high school students under our supervision. The results are divided into four sections: (1) perceptions of Rotuma; (2) the migration experience abroad; (3) getting resettled following return; and (4) readaptation to life on the island.

Being Rotuman on the Internet (2017) Download PDF
The argument I make in this paper is that the contexts in which people communicate with one another provide both opportunities and constraints on the degree to which cultural identity is expressed and the forms that it takes. My focus is on the specific ways in which persons of Rotuman ancestry choose to communicate their Rotuman roots to other Rotumans, to knowledgeable friends, to country-mates, and/or to the world at large in electronic media.

Diaspora No More? The Role of Facebook in the Development of a Global Rotuman Community (2019) Download PDF
This paper documents the processes by which the Rotuman people have been transformed from an isolated island population to a culturally conscious diasporic population. Of special concern are the ways in which the Internet has been instrumental in producing a now-global Rotuman community via a website I created in 1996 and the introduction of Facebook a decade later. The changes that have taken place as a result of Internet participation raise questions about the relationship between the concepts of community and diaspora, which are explored in the light of debated definitions of each.

Rotumans in Europe: Festive Spaces (Unpublished Paper) Download PDF
A  discussion of Rotuman gatherings in Europe and the ways in which they both deviate from and resemble typical Rotuman gatherings elsewhere, with particular attention to the processes of cultural bonding.

Evocations of Home: Exporting Rotuman Cultural Sensibilities (Unpublished Paper) Download PDF
A discussion of the importance of "home" in Rotuman culture, and the significance of place in people's sense of themselves.

Youthful Visions: Place and Identity in Teenage Rotuman Poetry (Unpublished Paper with Jan Rensel)
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An exploration of poems by three Rotuman teenagers living abroad that reflect a general mindset of expatriate Rotumans for whom the physical island represents a glorified symbol, and a powerful reinforcement of their cultural identity.