Editorial: Strengthening Educational Relationships in Oceania and Beyond

Eve Coxon


The title of this Special Issue, Strengthening educational relationships in Oceania and Beyond, is underpinned by the regional vision offered by the late Tongan anthropologist, Dr Epeli Hau’ofa, as an alternative to the prevalent regional perspective at the time, “the economistic and geographic determinist view” (1993:6) which he saw as maintaining the power relations of colonial times between Pacific Rim ‘developed’ countries and the small island ‘developing’ states and territories within the Pacific Basin.  Hau’ofa’s “New Oceania” focused on the Pacific Ocean as a shared post-colonial space for both the revitalisation of the pre-colonial interconnectedness of Pacific peoples and the development of extensive and expansive new connections with Pacific Rim countries, particularly Australia and New Zealand, of “a vibrant and much enlarged world of social networks that criss-cross the ocean …” (1998:391).

The five articles in this special issue draw on papers presented –as keynote addresses or as panel contributions - at the OCIES 2015 (November 3-6) conference held in the small Pacific state of Vanuatu, the first regional CIE conference to be held in a location other than Australia or New Zealand. They also informed a further exposure for most authors by way of a panel presentation at the 2016 World Congress of Comparative Education Societies in Beijing (July 21-26) which aligned with the general theme of the conference, Dialectics of Education: Comparative Perspectives, in addressing the need to explore the dialectics through which CIE can strengthen its work in Oceania. The decision to do so through the thematic strand Modernity and Tradition was because of the extent to which Pacific cultures are shaped by traditions that effectively predate colonisation. Although increasingly influenced by processes of globalisation, including global development agendas, ‘traditional’ political and economic structures, embedded within ethics of redistribution, reciprocity and inclusiveness, to varying degrees still characterise Pacific cultures. The extent to which these articulate with ‘modern’ institutions such as education cannot be ignored in the pursuit of sustainable education development.

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