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Type: Journal article
Title: Flight of the frigate bird: Ocean Island, phosphate mining and Project Banaba
Author: Treagus, M.
Citation: Journal of Human Rights and the Environment, 2021; 12(1):103-132
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
Issue Date: 2021
ISSN: 1759-7188
Statement of
Mandy Treagus
Abstract: This article outlines the environmental disaster that was phosphate mining on Banaba – or Ocean Island, as it was known to outsiders. The article tracks the tactics used by what became the BPC (British Phosphate Commissioners) in extracting phosphate from the island, resulting in the removal of 90 per cent of its soil and simultaneously alienating Banabans from their land, livelihoods and culture. This process took place over 80 years, finally ending in 1981. In the course of this extraction, Banabans were removed from what was fast becoming an uninhabitable environment in 1945, when they began life on the Fijian island of Rabi. This article reflects on the ongoing legacy of bitterness and grief experienced by Banabans, together with their attempts at obtaining restitution from the Company and the governments it represented. In this context, the art installation Project Banaba (2017; 2019) by Katerina Teaiwa is considered as a response to these histories. The article concludes with an examination of the literature that considers the removal of Banabans as a test case for climate-induced migration, noting that the singularity of the Banaban experience is not likely to be repeated, while also acknowledging the ongoing legacy of loss and grief for Banabans.
Keywords: Banaba; phosphate mining; climate-induced migration; Katerina Teaiwa; contemporary Pacific art; Pacific
Rights: © 2021 The Author. Journal compilation © 2021 Edward Elgar Publishing Ltd
DOI: 10.4337/jhre.2021.01.08
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Appears in Collections:Aurora harvest 4
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