Books  General Natural History  Environmental History 

Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba

Series: Tracking Globalization

By: Katerina Martina Teaiwa(Author)

246 pages, 38 b/w photos and b/w illustrations, 2 b/w maps

Indiana University Press

Paperback | Dec 2014 | #216359 | ISBN-13: 9780253014528
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £18.99 $26/€22 approx
Hardback | no dustjacket | Dec 2014 | #216358 | ISBN-13: 9780253014443
Availability: Usually dispatched within 6 days Details
NHBS Price: £56.99 $77/€65 approx

About this book

Consuming Ocean Island tells the story of the land and people of Banaba, a small Pacific island, which, from 1900 to 1980, was heavily mined for phosphate, an essential ingredient in fertilizer. As mining stripped away the island's surface, the land was rendered uninhabitable, and the indigenous Banabans were relocated to Rabi Island in Fiji. Katerina Martina Teaiwa tells the story of this human and ecological calamity by weaving together memories, records, and images from displaced islanders, colonial administrators, and employees of the mining company. Her compelling narrative reminds us of what is at stake whenever the interests of industrial agriculture and indigenous minorities come into conflict. The Banaban experience offers insight into the plight of other island peoples facing forced migration as a result of human impact on the environment.

"Teaiwa deals with the great sense of betrayal, loss, and displacement indigenous Banabans suffered through as well as the harsh physical toll decades of excessive mining has taken on the land. With a justified sense of outrage, Teaiwa educates her audience without alienating it, laying bare the consequences of reaping such a natural bounty at the expense of others."
Publishers Weekly

"Consuming Ocean Island is an ethnographic and analytic tour-de-force. Writing an intimate cultural history of the island of Banaba, Kiribati, conjoined with a history of phosphate and its extraction, Katerina Teaiwa places us amid unsettling stories of mining and its violent transformations – phosphate turned to fertilizer, a bountiful Pacific homeland left desolate, a people and their island's very earth dispersed around the globe. In part a moving family story, this brilliant ethnography offers new ways to track globalization, dispersal, and creative recovery."
– Kirin Narayan, author of Alive in the Writing: Crafting Ethnography in the Company of Chekhov



Prelude: Three Global Stories

Notes on Orthography and Geography

Part I. Phosphate Pasts
1. The Little Rock That Feeds
2. Stories of P
3. Land from the Sea

Part II. Mine/lands
4. Remembering Ocean Island
5. Land from the Sky
6. Interlude: Another Visit to Ocean Island
7. E Kawa te aba: The Trials of the Ocean Islanders
8. Remix: Our Sea of Phosphate (photo essay)

Part III. Between Our Islands
9. Interlude: Coming Home to Fiji
10. Between Rabi and Banaba


Ocean Island/Banaba Timeline

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Katerina Martina Teaiwa is Co-Convener of Pacific Studies in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University. Born and raised in the Fiji Islands, she is of Banaban, I-Kiribati, and African American heritage.

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