New Regional Labour Circuits in the South Pacific: Gender, Culture and Transnationalism

This project investigates the transforming contemporary Pacific.

Centre for Samoan Studies staff


Pacific mobility is being shaped by new patterns of international trade, investment and aid adopted by key regional players—China, America, Australia and New Zealand. Using a multi-sited analysis of regional labour circuits focusing on Polynesian Islands, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, this study connects broad geopolitical shifts to the movement of individuals and families, and to their gendered and culturally embedded economic, affective and expressive practices.

Research on Pacific mobility have focused almost exclusively on ‘out-migration’ of Islanders to larger countries of the Pacific Rim (United States, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand). As a feminist ethnography, the study explores movement of people, capital, investment and goods between Cook Islands, Sāmoa and Fiji that reveal vibrant transformations of both capitalist and local economic practices. The gendered, sexed, raced, and class dimensions of locally embedded and globally attuned networks challenge economic-driven models of global migration.


  • Investigate, map and analyse new circuits of human mobility relating to the Pacific region
  • Conceptually integrate these circuits by examining their connection to contemporary local and global socio-political and economic transformations
  • Analyse the significance of gender and affect to Pacific transnationalism, including by assessing how gender relations and economies of affect are reconfigured and/or reconfirmed across practices and processes of mobility and immobility


Project details


Australian Research Council – Future Fellowship

Project team

Professor Meleisea Leasiolagi
Dr Malama Meleisea
Associate Professor Penelope Meleisea, Centre for Samoan Studies, National University of Samoa
University of the South Pacific, Cook Islands Campus
University of the South Pacific, Oceania Centre


Dr Kalissa Alexeyeff