Fa 'a Samoa and China : The interface of indigenous socio-political systems, legacies of colonialism, and (re)imaginations of race in the independent state of Samoa
Williams, Kiavanne Abelardo Javier
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In an exploration of the way that race operates in Samoa, this qualitative research project studies the intersection of the Fa'a Samoa - the socio-political governance system of Samoa, the recent Chinese migration in the global context of China as an economic hegemon, and both colonial histories and modern legacies of race in Samoa. The author poses the research question: What is the impact of contemporary Chinese intervention on how race operates in Samoa for all members? In answering this question, a series of semi-formal interviews through the networks in and around the capital city of Apia were employed to collect (his)stories, opinions, and concerns in Samoa by folks that identify as Samoan. Out of conversations in a city and country transformed by the presence of the People's Republic of China, many participants elaborate on their own negotiations of the influx of new Chinese migrants and the consequent transformations of government, society, and family. In the most central indigenous social system in Samoa, the Fa 'a Samoa, continues to complexify race in Samoa through both its ability to subsume identities into the Samoan identity and give political power through its integration in the governmental structure. This project also explores the history of Chinese migrations in Samoa, producing differences of racialization for new Chinese migrants and Samoans with Chinese ancestry. The results and implications of this work points to the centrality of the Fa'a Samoa in the past, present, and future of Samoan racial (re)formations.