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Transmigration, transculturation, tribulation: A sociocultural analysis of a Philippine rural resettlement

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Doelle, P (2013) Transmigration, transculturation, tribulation: A sociocultural analysis of a Philippine rural resettlement. PhD thesis, University of Tasmania.

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Abstract

This thesis is an examination of the sociocultural ramifications of the migration / resettlement phenomenon. A rapidly increasing population sharing an affluently disparate world has contributed to an ever-increasing migrancy. A corollary of this migration, in an ethnically heterogeneous world, is that more people than ever find themselves living amid unfamiliar cultures. In consequence of this both settler and host communities are obliged to find modi vivendi with which to achieve harmonious coexistences. There appear to be three trajectories possible in such intercultural encounters: (1) the abandoning of ethnocultural lifeways by way of acculturation, (2) the reification of existing cultures, and (3) the exchanging of cultural values. To what degree individuals or groups are prepared to compromise their ethnic identities or cultural values in achieving modi vivendi is dependent on circumstance. Via an analysis of the sociocultural changes that have occurred in a specific Philippine zone of resettlement I demonstrate that integration into new societies is less fraught where mutual cultural exchange takes place.
In the course of the twentieth century the Philippines experienced a ten-fold increase in its population. The demographic imperative – coupled with the recognition by both colonial and independent administrations that an increase in land inventories was required to ensure food security, improve livelihoods, and ameliorate social unrest – created the conditions for the resettlement of millions of Filipinos to less populated regions. However, the Philippine’s polyethnicity dictated that this internal migration would have implications for intercultural accommodations, ones that state planners and bureaucrats had failed to anticipate. To comprehend the complex intercultural interactions that have taken place – and the requisite cultural compromises required in achieving modi vivendi – I have chosen the former state-sponsored resettlement scheme centred on Narra / Palawan1 as a representative model.
This thesis analyses the manner and degree of the sociocultural changes that have taken place in heterogeneous populations dislocated by Philippine rural resettlement programs – a process I term transmigration. For many, this internal, inter-island, inter-provincial, rural-to-rural population transfer experience has not proved socially onerous – integration into new societies has been unproblematic. I chose the Narra / Palawan resettlement zone to test the hypothesis that interethnic harmony is contingent upon the degree to which individuals and groups are prepared to adapt their lifeways by means of a mutual exchange of cultural particularities – a process I term transculturation. Not all resettlement in the Philippines – as the tribulations of the Mindanao resettlement zone attest – have gone unchallenged. It is the contrary outcomes in intercultural encounters, in both Mindanao and the wider migrancy world, that were at once the catalyst for this study and a means for understanding the potential possible in such encounters.
While fieldwork for this thesis was confined to the Municipality of Narra in the Province of Palawan I draw on exemplars of resettlement in the wider world to help decode the observable sociocultural transformations that have occurred in Narra. As reference points the scholarship of others investigating a wide range of archipelagic2 resettlement scenarios has been drawn upon.
To comprehend and anchor the progression of cultural change in the Narra ‘contact zone’ I chose as a framing theory the Ortizian concept transculturation in conjunction with that of ethnic identity theory. To determine the trajectory, degree of interaction, rate of change and its ramifications for a wider resettlement world, the thesis poses two fundamental questions: (1) ‘What cultural changes take place among heterogeneous populations disrupted by resettlement?’ and (2) ‘Under which circumstances are transmigrant ethnocultural identities maintained, diminished or amplified during this process?’ Just as cultures are made of continuities and changes, in Narra I discerned that cultural exchange was an ongoing process, one from which observable inferences could be gleaned.
Individual interviews and engagement with key informants provided the data that determined Narra as a zone of transculturation. Although the requisite intercultural interaction necessary for harmonious interethnic coexistences has failed to replicate in all resettlement milieux, this thesis suggests that as a model for such coexistences Narra provides an exemplar that is paradigmatic for ongoing migration / resettlement scenarios.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: migration, culture, identity, ethnicity, transculturation, demography
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Date Deposited: 05 Feb 2014 03:36
Last Modified: 15 Sep 2017 01:06
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