Tongans Overseas: Between Two Shores
376pp. January 2003
Tongans Overseas: Between Two Shores
Author: Lee, Helen Morton;
Since the late 1960s Tongans have been leaving their islands in large numbers and settling in many different nations. Tongans Overseas is a timely look at their settlement experiences as they relate to cultural identity, particularly among the younger generations raised outside Tonga. What does being Tongan mean to these young people? Why do some proudly proclaim and cherish their Tongan identities while others remain ambivalent, confused, or indifferent?

Helen Morton Lee's innovative research offers insights into these and many other questions, revealing the complexities of identity construction in the context of migration and the varied ways in which individuals seek a sense of belonging. Using both traditional ethnographic fieldwork and newly popular Internet discussion forums, where young Tongans speak their minds and describe their experiences, Lee has produced the most comprehensive study of Tongan migrants to date. Throughout the book diasporic Tongans speak eloquently about their lives, and case studies of families and individuals bring the analysis to life. Lee explores tensions within overseas communities, especially the intergenerational conflicts that are contributing to the alienation of many young Tongans today.

"Recommended. All levels/collections." --Choice, November 2003

"A milestone in the study of Pacific diasporas" --The Contemporary Pacific 16 (2004) (Download full review)

"Appealing ... The engaging personal narratives work well to sustain the reader's interest and involvement with the underlying analysis.... In conclusion, this volume will appeal to academics and to non-specialists with an interest in the Pacific Islands. It is also a useful textbook for an introductory course on Pacific Ethnography or Migration Geography." --Pacific Affairs, Spring 2004

"This is a book for those interested in how migrants adapt to their new environment, and also retain contacts with their home country. It is also for Tongans everywhere, but those who should form its main readership are the young Tongans who live overseas, for they recognise the commonality of their experiences from this excellent book." --Journal of Pacific History 39 (2004)

Author: Lee, Helen Morton;
Helen Morton Lee lectures in anthropology at the School of Social Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne.
Read the introduction (PDF).

"Between Two Shores"

1. Introduction: Migration and Cultural Identity

2. Leaving Tonga "For Our Future"

3. Life Overseas: Community and Conflict

4. Identity in the Diaspora: Perspectives of the First Generation

Case Studies 1 and 2 5. Diasporic Youth: "Stuck between Two Worlds"?

Case Studies 3 and 4 6. Intermarriage: "A Two-Way Life"

Case Studies 5 and 6 7. Looking Ahead

APPENDIX A: The Tongans of Melbourne, Australia

APPENDIX B: Profiles of Interviewees




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