It is important to reconsider how we are studying Pacific migration and mobilities in Australia, decolonising the frameworks often used to analyse collective cultures. Tongan migration and mobility is best understood as part of a holistic and progressive movement of a collective of peoples, over time and space. This would also be true of other Oceanic collective cultures. This paper draws upon findings from two separate studies on Pacific migrant well-being and their mobilities, conducted as part of my PhD (2015-2019) and as part of my postdoctoral research (2020-current). This particular presentation of ‘a resilient culture’ focuses on the multi-sited Tongan collectives observed in Australia, America, New Zealand, and Tonga. A spectrum of Tongan people’s mobilities have been observed pre-Covid, during the pandemic and post-Covid restrictions. The various mobilities experienced by Tongans has been shaped and practiced in response to these developing settings. Their collective agency has been challenged, transformed, and strengthened as a result of the sociocultural disruptions experienced by their families and connected communities. However, it is important to understand that their agency and resiliency as collectives is internally driven as much as it is a response to external circumstances. The evidence reveals a cultural resilience; Tongan collectives remain connected, across homeland and diaspora contexts, despite the changes and challenges experienced.

About the Presenter

Dr. Faleolo studies Pacific peoples’ migration histories and contemporary mobilities. Her postdoctoral work (2020-2023) is part of the ARC Project ‘Indigenous Mobilities to and through Australia: agency and sovereignties’ with Dr. Katherine Ellinghaus (La Trobe University) and Dr. Rachel Standfield (Melbourne University). She completed her PhD (2020), at the University of Queensland, with guidance from Professor Paul Memmott, Dr. Kelly Greenop (Aboriginal Environments Research Centre), Professor Mark Western and Dr. Denise Clague (Institute for Social Science Research). Her thesis documents the well-being perspectives and experiences of Pasifika Trans-Tasman communities (Samoans and Tongans) in Auckland and Brisbane (2015-2019).

About Anthropology Working Papers

The Working Papers in Anthropology seminar series provides a forum for dissemination of anthropological research and ideas among UQ scholars and invited researchers. All students are invited to attend the series and postgraduate students, from honours upwards, are invited to present their research. The aim is to provide opportunities for students, staff and those from outside UQ, to present and discuss their work in an informal environment.


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