Storying place: A tok stori about relationalities in Oceanic education and development
Education and development are intimately connected and highly contested in Oceania, in theory and in practice. Indigenous Oceanic notions and practices of both education and development are fundamentally relational, and are expressions of culture, identity, kinship, and embeddedness in place. Oceanic peoples are engaged in ongoing resistance and negotiation with externally imposed models of education and development, at a variety of scales. This study is an inquiry into relationalities at the intersection of education and development in Oceania. It is a body of work that has emerged from the author’s extensive relationships in East New Britain province, Papua New Guinea. The research has an explicit decolonising agenda, reflected in the use of the relational practice of tok stori as the primary methodological framework, in order to centre the knowledge, practices and interests of Oceanic peoples. The relational space created by storying with Gunantuna/Tolai elders, educators, development practitioners, and other community members in East New Britain, brought forth uniquely place centred insights about the ways development and education are articulated, contested, negotiated and reclaimed by Indigenous peoples at the local level.