Helen Lee

Helen Lee began her research in the Pacific with doctoral research on childhood and youth in Tonga, published as Becoming Tongan: An Ethnography of Childhood (1996, as H. Morton). Now Professor of Anthropology at La Trobe University in Melbourne, she has continued to focus on young people throughout her career, including in her research on Tongans in the diaspora (Tongans overseas: Between Two Shores, 2003). A project on the return of overseas-born Tongans to their parents’ homeland continued her broader study of migration and transnationalism, which led to two ANU Press publications: Migration and Transnationalism: Pacific Perspectives (2009, with Steve Tupai Francis) and Mobilities of Return: Pacific Perspectives (2017, with John Taylor). Her recent research has been with Pacific settlers and seasonal workers in the northwest of Victoria, including the experiences of Pacific youth growing up in rural Australia.

orcid https://orcid.org/0000-0002-2379-6940

Pacific Youth »

Local and Global Futures

Edited by: Helen Lee
Pacific populations are becoming younger and this ‘youth bulge’ is often perceived as a dangerous precursor to civil unrest. Yet young people are also a valuable resource holding exciting potential for the future of island nations. Addressing these conflicting views of youth, this volume presents ethnographic case studies of young people from across the Pacific and the diaspora. Moving beyond the typical focus on ‘youth problems’ in reports by Pacific governments and development agencies, the authors examine the highly diverse lives and perspectives of young people in urban and rural locations. They celebrate the contributions of youth to their communities while examining the challenges they face. The case studies explore the impacts of profound local and global changes and cover a wide sweep of youth experiences across themes of education, employment and economic inequalities, political and civil engagement, and migration and the diaspora. Contributors to this volume bring many decades of experience of research with Pacific people as well as fresh perspectives from early career and graduate researchers. Most are anthropologists and their chapters contribute to the interdisciplinary fields of youth studies and Pacific studies, offering thought-provoking insights into the possibilities for Pacific youth as they face uncertain futures.

Mobilities of Return »

Pacific Perspectives

Edited by: John Taylor, Helen Lee
In recent decades, the term ‘mobility’ has emerged as a defining paradigm within the humanities. For scholars engaged in the multidisciplinary topics and perspectives now often embraced by the term Pacific Studies, it has been a much more longstanding and persistent concern. Even so, specific questions regarding ‘mobilities of return’—that is, the movement of people ‘back’ to places that are designated, however ambiguously or ambivalently, as ‘home’—have tended to take a back seat within more recent discussions of mobility, transnationalism and migration. This volume situates return mobility as a starting point for understanding the broader context and experience of human mobility, community and identity in the Pacific region and beyond. Through diverse case studies spanning the Pacific region, it demonstrates the extent to which the prospect and practice of returning home, or of navigating returns between multiple homes, is a central rather than peripheral component of contemporary Pacific Islander mobilities and identities everywhere.

Migration and Transnationalism »

Pacific Perspectives

Edited by: Helen Lee, Steve Tupai Francis
Pacific Islanders have engaged in transnational practices since their first settlement of the many islands in the region. As they moved beyond the Pacific and settled in nations such as New Zealand, the U.S. and Australia these practices intensified and over time have profoundly shaped both home and diasporic communities. This edited volume begins with a detailed account of this history and the key issues in Pacific migration and transnationalism today. The papers that follow present a range of case studies that maintain this focus on both historical and contemporary perspectives. Each of the contributors goes beyond a narrowly economic focus to present the human face of migration and transnationalism; exploring questions of cultural values and identity, transformations in kinship, intergenerational change and the impact on home communities. Pacific migration and transnationalism are addressed in this volume in the context of increasing globalisation and growing concerns about the future social, political and economic security of the Pacific region. As the case studies presented here show, the future of the Pacific depends in many ways on the ties diasporic Islanders maintain with their homelands.