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Jack Corbett and John Connell

Questions about ‘modernity’, including assessment of its penetration and reach, dominate scholarly and policy discourse on the Pacific. The relatively late and thin veneer of colonialism is one reason for this. The apparent absence of modernist development is another. What is holding the region back and how might this be remedied? This chapter reviews different answers to this key question. Smallness has been central to each iteration of this discussion. A series of paradoxes loom: the Pacific is too modern and not modern enough; underdeveloped and paradise lost; an ‘ocean of democracy’ and an ‘arc of instability’; a progressive champion of climate change and a conservative bastion of patriarchy. Each characteristic intersects with ‘modernity’ at different points and implies different understandings of size and scale.

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Matthew Flinders, Matthew Wood and Jack Corbett

This chapter offers a critical analysis of current research on anti-politics and links to forms of democratic innovation. We find that ‘anti-politics’ remains a ‘contested’ concept, which to some extent reflects a lack of analytical depth and thinking within the field. We define ‘anti-politics’ as a set of complex and paradoxical sentiments that reject the very basis of liberal representative democratic culture, as it currently functions. We argue anti-politics provides a more significant challenge to democracy than is commonly acknowledged. We develop a fourfold framework that maps onto existing research and dissects specific forms of anti-politics. We show how particular forms of anti-politics challenge basic democratic ‘goods’ supposedly assured by innovative forms of democratic governance. We conclude that without careful consideration, democratic innovations may be little more than cosmetic, tokenistic responses and ultimately prove counter-productive to a far deeper socio-political challenge.