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.

Timmer, “Being-in-the-Covenant”

Timmer, Jaap. 2015. Being-in-the-Covenant: Reflections on the Crisis of Historicism in North Malaita, Solomon Islands. In Kalpana Ram and Chris Houston (eds), Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective, pp. 175-194. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Excerpt: Biblical prophecy makes a major contribution to discourses and practices of nation and destiny in Solomon Islands.  After discussing its broader context, this article investigates the power of Old Testament prophecies through analysis of the 2010 Queen’s Birthday speech of Solomon Islands’ governor-general Sir Frank Kabui, entitled “Our connection with the Throne of England”… [which] focuses on a British-Israelite theory that claims that Jacob’s pillar stone is kept in Scotland because the kings and queens of Britain are the seed-royal to the House of David…

Timmer, “The All Peoples Prayer Assembly in Solomon Islands”

Timmer, Jaap.  2015.  The All Peoples Prayer Assembly in Solomon Islands.  Nova Religio 18(4): 16-34.

Abstract: The notion that forebears of Solomon Islanders might be descendants of the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel is widespread among To’abaita speakers in North Malaita, and it features in a particular way in the theology of the popular All Peoples Prayer Assembly (APPA), also known as the Deep Sea Canoe Movement. Prominent in this boast of an Israelite genealogy is a utopian fantasy of a just “Israel” grounded in the ancestral soil of the island of Malaita. This article describes the APPA worldview as an alternative modernity that is meaningful to the To’abaitans because it provides a new sense of self and a shared destiny. Although APPA’s theology relates to the people’s socio-economic concerns, it reveals more clearly the continuity of some key cultural models through changing global influences, local histories and cultural dynamics.