“Tapwaroro is true”: Indigenous voice and the heteroglossia of Methodist missionary translation in British New Guinea

In the semiotic ideology of many Christian discursive practices, it is assumed that any language can convey the same message of salvation, and any person is capable of true belief, no matter how it is expressed. Evangelism, especially by Western missions, thus centers on translating Christian texts into vernacular languages. This article considers these understandings […]

Debra McDougall, Engaging with Strangers: Love and Violence in Rural Solomon Islands (Review)

When a boat left the shores of Australia to return hundreds of Melanesian laborers to their homes in the South Sea Islands, deportees were heard to shout from the deck ‘Good-bye Queensland, good-bye white Australia, good-bye Christians’ (‘The deportation of Kanakas’, Wagga Wagga Express, 29 August 1907, p. 2). It is hard to say whether […]

Jeffrey Sissons, The Polynesian Iconoclasm: Religious Revolution and the Seasonality of Power (Review)

Today, one is asked to contemplate the end of the world on a regular basis. This seems to be an era of iconoclasm and iconoclasts in both the senses of image-breakers and radicals. It brings latter-day moderns in touch with a moment in Polynesian history when sacred chiefs encountered Christian missionaries. In this book, Jeffrey […]

A society divided: Death, personhood, and Christianity in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

Christianity invites one to consider it as an antisocial and disembedding force, in particular as hostile to tradition and hostile to collective modes of life. Colonial-era evangelists to Papua New Guinea (PNG) called on people to break traditional rules and, in their words, come out of the darkness. It has thus been productive to examine […]

Haus Man, Haus Krai: The Politics of Cosmology in Papua New Guinea

The campaign against sorcery in PNG continues For now nearly two years, groups in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and abroad have been campaigning to end the killing and torture of women accused of sorcery. Recently, grassroots organizations in provincial centres have taken up the cause in earnest, and brought renewed international attention to the matter. […]

A New Government Breaks With The Past in The Papua New Guinea Parliament’s “Haus Tambaran”

Previously posted on Material World. The 2013 session of the Parliament of Papua New Guinea (PNG) ended with drama from an unexpected place. After months of stories from PNG of mobs and armed gangs torturing women and men they accused of sorcery, and a campaign of symbolic mourning by women across the country against violence, […]

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo (Review)

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Liana Chua’s ethnography attempts to answer the question why people who call themselves Christians would maintain continuity with a religion that they themselves identify as a traditional relic. The people she describes are […]

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania (Review)

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013. In his 1843 book review, ‘On The Jewish Question’, Marx argues that while the liberal state claims to liberate people from religious constraints by giving them rights as citizens, it in fact replaces one constraint with another by […]

Liberation and development in Glebe at Tranby College

In Glebe, the leafy suburb of Sydney, one can find a connection between the Australian labor movement, Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism, and the Territory of Papua at Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative College. Alf Clint was a labor activist who was drawn to the Christian socialism of the Anglo-Catholic community based at Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney. He […]

Florence Young: Missionary to Melanesians in Queensland of the 1880s

Florence S. H. Young was a mostly self-trained Christian missionary who preached to and taught Melanesian migrant workers in Queensland in the 1880s and 1890s. In the golden age of European Christian missions, she proposed an alternative to the mainstream model of how Europeans should preach gospel to indigneous peoples, and provoked a minor controversy […]