Current Institutional Affiliation
Senior Lecturer, Anthropology, University Of Melbourne

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 1998
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of Chicago
The Shifting Ground of Moral Community: Christianity, Property, and Place in Ranongga (Solomon Islands)

The proposed research will attempt to understand how Solomon Islanders, and particularly Solomon Islander women, are invoking kastom to figure their political agency within the community and in relation to the national government and international capitalism. In analyzing political discourse in the Western New Georgia area of the Solomon Islands, I will focus on two sites where people explicitly invoke kastom in order to justify control over land resources: local courts and community development workshops. Given fluid leadership and flexible residence patterns, as well as contemporary migration for wage labor, these courts and workshops are important sites of the "production of locality," in which people define relationships between groups of people and particular places and attempt to bring trans-local flows of resources into the village. In the context of debates about land ownership and economic development, I will address three key questions: 1.) how do actors present themselves as effective political agents? 2.) what understandings of social and economic value are being negotiated in these debate? and 3.) how do actors justify plans and action through reference to kastom?