This article explores a primary source of legal studies, case-law, as a form of narrative in the context of indigenous land rights, and considers how this narrative negotiates pre-colonial land claims in a postcolonial context. Its case-study is the South Pacific island country of Vanuatu, a small-island, leastdeveloped, nation-state, where laws introduced under Anglo–French colonial administration are still retained and sit uneasily alongside the customary forms of land tenure which govern ninety percent of all land in the islands. The article looks at the traditional and changing role of narrative presented as evidence by claimants and their witnesses against a context of rapid social and economic change, and asks whether the metamorphosis of narrative signals the future survival or imminent demise of customary indigenous land rights and what that might mean for these island people faced by the pressures of development.
- Land rights
- Indigenous peoples