Abstract: This article examines a Fijian kindergarten using Accelerated Christian Education (ACE), a curriculum produced by an American corporation for Christian homeschoolers, which combines academic and emotion pedagogies. Pedagogies prompting children to label, reflect on, and control their emotions are popular in American schools and said to develop skills necessary to be self-directed, risk-taking entrepreneurs under neoliberalism. In contrast, in Fiji, children educated with the ACE curriculum are told that feeling the correct emotions is a “commitment” and that submitting to authority will benefit everyone. The ACE curriculum appears to turn working-class American children and children in peripheral countries like Fiji into submissive workers in corporations while middle-class Euro-American children are socialized to become innovative entrepreneurs. But further examination shows that Fijian parents and teachers see the curriculum as giving their children the proper skills to succeed in a world outside of Fiji.
Maggio, Rodolfo. 2016. ‘My wife converted me’: Gendered values and gendered conversion in Pentecostal households in Honiara, Solomon Islands. The Australian Journal of Anthropology. Early online publication.
Abstract: Church organization, the notion of person, and the charismatic discourse on value in Pentecostal denominations deeply influence gender relations among church members. In turn, gender relations influence the ways in which the charismatic discourse is received and concretised. My analysis explores this complex process of mutual transformations of gender roles and conversion meanings among Pentecostal Christians in an illegal settlement on the outskirts of Honiara, Solomon Islands. In particular, I focus on how husband and wife in Pentecostal households change the way they look at each other as they undertake a process of charismatic renewal. My aim is to illustrate how the statement of a Kwara’ae man reveals the meaning of conversion as a long-term process that takes place relationally and under the influence of gendered values.
Oroi, Aram. 2016. “‘Press the Button, Mama!’ Mana and Christianity on Makira, Solomon Islands.” In Matt Tomlinson and Ty P. Kāwika Tengan, eds., New Mana Transformations of a Classic Concept in Pacific Languages and Cultures. Canberra: ANU Press.
Excerpt: In this chapter, I discuss the implicit theology of mana in the context of that ‘spiritual switch’ in Makiran Christianity. Mena is the native Arosi word for mana. To explore the implicit theology of mena/mana, I begin with examples of events I have experienced as an Anglican priest serving the community. Next, I review selected literature on mana, considering the usefulness of scholarly accounts for the Makiran context. Finally, I pose questions about mana and efficacy in relation to the idea of pressing buttons and the work of the Holy Spirit. I argue that a proper understanding of mana is vital to the continuing e orts of contextualising the Gospel in Makiran Christianity and clarifying Makiran contextual theology for scholars interested in the social dynamics of Solomon Islands religion.
Abstract: This Introduction to this Special Issue of Oceania, ‘Descent from Israel: Jewish Identities in the Pacific, Past and Present’, sets the historical context of European interest in Pacific peoples as descended from the ‘Lost Tribes’ of the biblical Hebrews. After surveying the way in which Pacific Christians in the past and present have adopted a Jewish identity, whether through genealogy, biblical and theological interpretation, and/or deep interest in the State of Israel, we then contextualise and summarise the scholarship that follows: on Jewish identity as adopted by churches and religious movements in Fiji, Solomon Islands and Papua Guinea, as well as a final reflection on their significance for Judaism today.
Abstract: Kingdom tok is an expression that is increasingly used in Honiara. It describes a set of ideas and practices related to what Solomon Islanders see as a recent ‘season’ in their history. Such a season is characterised by the reappropriation of particular meanings of their faith that they perceive as influenced by recent historical processes such as the colonial era, the introduction of Christianity, and the first few decades from independence. In terms of ‘Kingdom’, they envision the possibility to challenge political hierarchies, social stratification, and issues of governance, as well as to re-define their identities in relation to a general state of empowerment. In Honiara, Pentecostal churches and groups with a strong identification with Judaism make use of Kingdom tok discourses. I claim that they experience the actualisation of Kingdom tok as concrete projects of social action and service provision, which they see as concrete alternatives to historical churches, the state, and the ‘way of the waitman’.
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…
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.
Abstract: Patterns of sociality in Fijian evangelical Christianity differ from the mainline Fijian Methodist church in being notably less integrated with relations of vanua and chiefly hierarchy, leading scholars to speculate as to whether such traditions are more individualised. Analysing teachings, hymns, worship styles and spatial arrangements within a prominent Fijian Pentecostal ministry, I explore how sociality is produced through the interaction of spatial, conceptual, and embodied processes. Competing dynamics of hierarchy and equality, connections and boundaries, are mobilised within an overall framework that emphasises individual moral authority and personal relationship with God. Through this analysis, in conversation with previous studies, this paper argues for a critical examination of schemes of ‘egalitarian individualism’ and ‘hierarchical holism’, which, through the influence of Louis Dumont in particular, have been prominent in studies of Christianity and sociality in Oceania.
Abstract: Scholars argue that Christians from the Global south will shape world Christianity as they come to dominate demographically. Pentecostals speak of a shared kingdom culture and see transnational networks as flat and decentralized. But Pentecostal rhetoric often draws on Euro-American neoliberal theories of individual “mindset transformation” and corporate management and resonates with earlier colonial rhetoric. This suggests that Christians from the global south might embrace Euro-American ideas instead of offering a significantly different vision. This paper examines an independent Fijian Pentecostal church that sends Fijian and Papua New Guinean missionaries to several areas of the world. Shared kingdom culture is undermined when each local church transforms common ideology to construct a positive local identity. The same process undermines the dominance of Euro-American neoliberal and neocolonial ideas and constructs an imagined world community of Christians based on submission to local leaders rather than promoting individual entrepreneurialism and global hierarchies.
Abstract: Although the academic research on religion in Fiji and the South Pacific is substantial, there are few examples of studies that connect religion with the larger discourses of Fijian tradition and social life. Even fewer are the ones linking culturally specific notions of gender performances to Christian devotion. By utilizing the theoretical framework of colonial mimicry,1
I argue that the Christianization of Fiji, particularly its continued impact on the social organization of modern Fijian society, has been reliant upon its collusion with premodern Fijian notions of gender, power and consanguinity. Based on historical enquiries and ethnographic material, I develop the argument that while conversion may be understood as the conscious adoption and mimicking of the western notion of religion as presented by Wesleyan misGeir Henning Presterudstuensionaries in the 1800s, the Fijian understanding of their Christianity, the merging between Christian belief and Fijian social protocol and the consequent development of culturally specific articulations of Christian devotion have produced substantial differences from western theological practice and teaching. A central distinction is the close link between performances of masculinity and Christian devotion found among Fijian Methodists.