Timmer, ‘Building Jerusalem in North Malaita, Solomon Islands’

Timmer, Jaap. 2015.  Building Jerusalem in North Malaita, Solomon Islands. Oceania. doi:10.1002/ocea.5110

Abstract: Amid a variety of ideas of Israelite genealogies for To’abaita speakers in North Malaita, Solomon Islands, ‘Holy Land’ features as a utopian fantasy of a just nation, not in Israel but grounded in the ancestral soil of the island. I analyse this mimetic gesture as part of attempts to reconcile kastom (custom) with Christianity and as evoking a sense of an essentialised group identity. In particular for followers of the All People’s Prayer Assembly (APPA), the idea of an essentialised group of To’abaita as a nation in the canonical ‘Table of Nations’ in Genesis 10 is quite prominent. This dialectic between ‘religion’ and ‘nation’ explains the ways in which people claim to have found authentic To’abaita foundations for a nation unifying distinct lineage groups, with a religious form at the centre, namely: Jerusalem. In this article I will show that APPA’s theology weakens the claim of the ‘secular’ state while strengthening the force of religious imagination and ideas about local sovereignty and a related notion of nation.

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