InfUr- Seminar with Jennifer Day — Pem Rent, Pem Graon: How custom is confused with informality in Port Vila, Vanuatu

This seminar was recorded on Monday 11th September 2023.

 Abstract: We argue in this paper that misunderstandings between the market-oriented construct, rent, and custom-oriented constructs of tenure, have profound consequences for communities in Port Vila.  We illustrate the mismatch between the expectations of customary tenants and the interpretation of these arrangements by the courts.  We use as illustration of the import of the distinction, the recent dispossessory case in the Tebakor community of Port Vila, of which Co-author Willy Missack has been a resident. 

Jennifer Eve Day works on issues of forced displacement and eviction, economic development, and urbanization across Asia and the Pacific, and she is expert in methods ranging from econometrics to qualitative storytelling.  She is a National Geographic Explorer and the CI on an Australian Research Council Discovery project titled, “Communities, Kava, Court Orders: The Ways of Possessing the Pacific City” and works closely with grass-roots community movements in Port Vila, Vanuatu on issues of eviction.  She is also CI on an associated project funded by the University of Melbourne Centre for Contemporary Chinese Studies, which examines the experience of Chinese people living in the Pacific who find themselves parties to eviction cases.  

Co-author Willy Missack is a PhD candidate at Victoria University Wellington, exploring how nature-based approaches contribute to climate adaptation and improve the well-being of urban communities.  He has a record of climate leadership in Vanuatu and the Pacific, including leading the Vanuatu Climate Action Network (VCAN) and Vanuatu Humanitarian Team (VHT) Coordinator at Oxfam in Vanuatu. Mr. Missack has a Masters degree in Environment Science for the University of New Caledonia and he is a Baha’i Youth serves currently as the Local Spiritual Assembly member of the Baha’i in Port Vila and serves as the Assistant Auxiliary Board member to support the youth movement in the Efate Cluster in Port Vila. In 2015, Mr. Missack had an Award from Her Majesty Elizabeth II on the work he is doing in the communities in his home Island (Tanna), to support the communities have access to clean drinking water.

Crystal Legacy is Associate Professor of Urban Planning at the University of Melbourne where she is also the Deputy Director of the Informal Urbanism Research Hub.