HDR Final Thesis: Christopher Evans - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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HDR Final Thesis: Christopher Evans

We would like to invite you to attend the Final Thesis of Christopher Evans, a Doctor of Philosophy candidate in the School of Law and Society.

Thesis Title: Patterns of Migration in the South Pacific: the case of Tuvalu 1945 to 2021.

Abstract:  This thesis presents a study of human migration within and from the Pacific island nation of Tuvalu in the period from 1945 to 2021. It demonstrates the great importance of migration in the lives of Tuvaluans, and examines the patterns of both internal and international movement of the population, describing and accounting for changes in such patterns during the period of interest.

This study explores the variety of factors influencing the decision by individuals to migrate, and seeks to counter the widely-held belief that, in the case of international movement, climate change is the predominant element in such decisions. Factors tending to encourage migration are contrasted with those causing islanders to remain on their home islands.

Existing literature on Tuvaluan migration tends to concentrate on the macro level of the situation, discussing the overall picture of general large-scale movements of population, while giving little consideration to the micro level. This thesis therefore seeks to fill in the detail within the main framework of population movement, by showing the human face of migration. It emphasises that migrants are not simply units in a statistical table, but a great variety of human individuals, each with their own emotions, ambitions and motives.  The effects of migration on the individual migrant, their family at home, and their particular island community, are illustrated and discussed. In particular, it is argued that financial gains resulting from migration for work are achieved only at the cost of considerable emotional stress resulting from the long-term separation of loved ones. 

 The author's own impressions and experiences whilst living for three years among 1200 islanders on an outer island of the Tuvalu group in the 1980s are used as illustration of the effect of migration at the micro level. The intention of this is to add to the impact of the study by describing actual individual migration situations, but such material is presented with the important caveat that it represents the reactions at that time of an outside observer with a very different cultural background.

Finally, this thesis seeks to trace the progress of the COVID-19 global pandemic in so far as it has affected Tuvalu since March 2020. Such a major event, which has totally transformed the migration situation, (at both internal and international levels), cannot be ignored. Although the situation is still (May 2021) changing almost daily, every effort has been made to keep abreast of developments, and to trace their continuing effects on migration within and from Tuvalu.

Bio:  Christopher Evans took his first degree in Geography and Economics at the Joint School of Geography of Kings College and London School of Economics in 1959, and completed a full-time MA at the University of Southampton in 1985. His interests are in human geography, especially in the fields of migration and development aid. He has lived and worked in New Zealand, Australia, the South Pacific (Tuvalu), East Africa and various parts of UK. His career has included high school teaching, University tutoring, and private professional research. His appointments in Africa and the South Pacific were with the British Aid programme, and the three years he spent on an outer island in Tuvalu have provided some of the material for the subject matter of his thesis.

We look forward to seeing you there!