On June 1, 2022, Samoa, the small Polynesian island country, previously known as Western Samoa and colonized by the Germans, before being placed under joint British and New Zealand colonial administration, will celebrate sixty years of independence. Forty miles to the southeast of the islands officially the Independent State of Samoa lies American Samoa, five islands and two coral atolls that together comprise the southernmost territory of the United States of America
Few Americans spend much time thinking about Samoa outside the context of Girl Scout Cookies and/or NFL football. Today’s guest makes the case that Samoa and other Pacific Islands, deserve greater attention when it comes to our understanding the intertwined histories of colonialism, capitalism, and globalization that together have shaped our contemporary world. Centering the lives of workers, including plantation laborers, ethnographic edutainers, and service workers, he reveals how Samoans navigated colonialism and capitalism at the turn of the 20th century, contesting exploitative labor conditions, while, at the same time, articulating their own forms of Oceanian globality.
Check out the episode here!
Holger Droessler is an Assistant Professor of History at Worcester Polytechnic Institute and the author of Coconut Colonialism: Workers and the Globalization of Samoa.