Anthropology Seminar

Date Thursday 17 September 2020
Time 3:10pm - 4:10pm
Where University of Waikato - Room KG.06 or via Zoom ( Meeting ID: 719 684 2758 / Password: @nthr0 )
Presenter Geir Henning Presterudstuen (Western Sydney University)
Contact Rachel Gosnell-Maddock
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

Taking two roads into town: reflections on mobility and inequality in modern Fiji.

Getting to town and back is a daily pre-occupation for people in the villages and settlements outside Nadi town in which the presenter has worked for the last decade. This reliance upon transport signifies how quotidian life in village Fiji to an increasing extent becomes oriented towards urban centres in context of the modern time-space. Children need to get to school, shopping and medical appointments completed, and outside work attended to. Organizing these trips is far from simple, however, and while we often hear that there are “two roads into town”, one travelled by foot (slow) and the other by motor vehicles (fast), the reality is that many are precluded from walking by concerns about personal safety, social appropriateness or health. In this paper the presenter takes both roads and thinks about them heuristically to understand the experience of time and place at the fringes of Fiji’s urban economy. From that starting point it is analysed how these practical, everyday forms of urban mobility is intertwined with a number of social inequalities, cultural assumptions and local insecurities about social change. The presenter draws upon ethnographic vignettes to operationalise what the geographer Tim Creswell has coined the ‘politics of mobility’. In the process particular attention is paid to how people’s relationship to technologies and modes of transport and infrastructure is underpinned by social categories of gender, race, and economic status.


Geir Henning Presterudstuen is a Senior Lecturer in Anthropology at Western Sydney University and has conducted long-term fieldwork in Fiji and broader Oceania since 2009. His main research interests are the intersections between social categories such as gender, ethnicity, class and sexuality in context of the modern market economy, economic anthropology from the margins, lived religion and beliefs in the supernatural. Key publications include the recent monograph Performing Masculinity: Body, Self and Identity in Modern Fiji (2019 Bloomsbury), three edited volumes: Monster Anthropology: Ethnographic Explorations of Transforming Social Worlds Through Monsters (2020 Bloomsbury w/ Yasmine Musharbash), Anthropologies of Value: Cultures of Accumulation across the Global North and South (2016 Pluto Press, w/ L.F. Angosto Ferrandez) and Monster Anthropology in Australasia and Beyond (2014 Palgrave Macmillan, w/ Yasmine Musharbash), as well as a number of articles in international journals.