No Island is an "Island": Some Perspectives on Human Ecology and Development in Oceania

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapter


It has often been argued that the Earth is like an island in space and that its brittleness is most clearly reflected on small islands in the oceans. Easter Island, in particular, with its largely depleted resources, has been seen as a microcosmic warning about what could happen to our entire planet. However, the analogy of the Earth and islands with finite natural resources is not self-evident from perspectives on human migration, trade, or carrying capacity. Using the islands of Oceania as examples, it is argued in this paper that unlike our “Earth Island” in space, these islands are not any isolated, finite “planets”, but that the worst tragedy for their human populations has occurred because they no longer have remained isolated from a larger economic system. This paper also shows that the economies of the Pacific microstates increasingly are becoming dependent on global transnational networks of kin and economic transactions that have very little to do with local natural resources, but rather with something which actually might be their most important economic resource of all: independence.


Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Social and Economic Geography


  • Human ecology, Earth island, Easter Island, French Polynesia, Oceania, Polynesia
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe World System and the Earth System: Global Socio-Environmental Change and Sustainability since the Neolithic
EditorsAlf Hornborg, Carole Crumley
PublisherLeft Coast Press Inc.
Publication statusPublished - 2007
Publication categoryResearch