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O Tama A 'Aiga: the politics of succession to Samoa's paramount titles

Tuimalealiifano, Morgan (2006) O Tama A 'Aiga: the politics of succession to Samoa's paramount titles. The Institute of Pacific Studies, the University of the South Pacific, Suva, Fiji. ISBN 9789820203778

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Samoa’s indigenous political system is based on the symbiotic relationship between two related but distinct aspects of custom; local practice (aga’ifanua)and universal custom (aganu’u). How are they defined and negotiated by families, village council, church and the Land and Titles Court? How is the past re-presented for present and future purposes, and what are the socio-economic consequences for families, village council, church and nation who are trying to develop. In examining the interface between political history and socio-economic imperatives, the author draws on succession disputes to Samoa’s paramount titles, known collectively as the Tama’āiga. The disputes are complicated in themselves. The complications are compounded by a society that continues to rely on oral traditions to articulate inherited rank on one hand and a written constitution as the source of new authority on the other. He concludes that the prospect of transcending neo-traditional conservatism may be remote. The debate engendered by this important book concerns both a political system developed for the needs of a bygone oral-based era, and the plight of a small developing country experiencing the relentless onslaught of economic globalization. Without unfolding and reconciling longstanding political intrigues embedded in contested pasts, in their rush to embrace globalization, Islanders may find themselves in a position where they are brushed aside. The tension between local practice (aga’ifanua,) custom (aganu’u) and development (atina’e) is not new, but the issues arising are so fraught with controversy that few, if any, have the courage to face them. But author Tuimaleali’ifano, who himself declined to accept a paramount title, argues that failure to confront them means mortgaging the inheritance of Samoa’s successive generations, continued dependency on foreign aid and the demoralizing drain of Samoa’s enthusiastic and energetic people to her more affluent overseas neighbors.

Item Type: Book
Subjects: J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Law and Education (FALE) > School of Social Sciences
Depositing User: Morgan Tuimalealiifano
Date Deposited: 18 Nov 2014 00:42
Last Modified: 21 Jul 2015 22:35

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