Consuming Ocean Island: Stories of People and Phosphate from Banaba

Katerina Martina Teaiwa. Indiana Univ, $28 trade paper (264p) ISBN 978-0-253-01452-8
In this dense work, Teaiwa, a Banaban by birth and co-convener of Pacific Studies in the College of Asia and the Pacific at the Australian National University, proffers an insider’s look at the geological, political, social and economic history of Banaba (aka Ocean Island), a miniscule island in the Republic of Kiribati. Teaiwa juxtaposes personal and community anecdotes with years of solid academic research to examine the effects of phosphate mining on the landscape. On a 1997 visit, Teaiwa encountered a “desiccated field of rocks and jagged limestone pinnacles jutting out of a gray earth,” an “industrial oceanic wasteland” full of “roofless concrete buildings and corrugated iron warehouses.” For most of the 20th century, British companies mined the island for its phosphate, a key ingredient in fertilizer, which is key to agriculture and global food security. Teaiwa deals with the great sense of betrayal, loss, and displacement indigenous Banabans suffered through as well as the harsh physical toll decades of excessive mining has taken on the land. With a justified sense of outrage, Teaiwa educates her audience without alienating it, laying bare the consequences of reaping such a natural bounty at the expense of others. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/11/2014
Release date: 08/01/2014
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 272 pages - 978-0-253-01444-3
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-0-253-01460-3
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