Declarations of ‘Self‐Reliance’: Alternative Visions of Dependency, Citizenship and Development in Vanuatu

Rachel Smith* (Corresponding Author)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
2 Downloads (Pure)


This article discusses how dependency's antonym, ‘self-reliance’ expresses and shapes aspirations for development, and ideas about citizenship in Vanuatu. This ‘keyword’ was popularized in the process of decolonization and nation-building in Vanuatu, and influenced by Dependency Theory, Pan-Africanism, Black Internationalism, and trans-Pacific visions of decolonization and development. But vernacular ideas of ‘self-reliance’ also articulate different aspirations for development at ‘grassroots’ community level, as will be shown in two case studies. The first is a community with a high degree of engagement in New Zealand's seasonal worker programme. The second is around the cultivation of kava — a plant with relaxant and soporific properties — for burgeoning domestic and export markets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-256
Number of pages21
Issue number2
Early online date20 Jul 2021
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

The author would like to thank all the participants and commentators at the ESfO panel, and the Oslo workshop. In particular, Ingjerd Hoëm and Keir Martin who both formulated the initial call for papers, and have seen it through to publication with editorial input. In addition, many thanks to Tom Bratrud for all his hard work in coordinating both the Oslo workshop, and the journal submission. I would also like to thank the Cambridge Humanities Grant Research Scheme (CHRGS) for a collaborative grant towards the Oslo workshop. The Vanuatu research was generously funded by an ESRC-UK PhD scholarship (doctoral fieldwork on Epi), and the Max Planck–Cambridge Centre for Ethics, Economy and Social Change (research on kava).


  • vanuatu
  • dependency theory
  • development
  • self-reliance
  • decolonization


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