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

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

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 […]

Marshall Sahlins, What Kinship Is–And Is Not

In this book, Marshall Sahlins expands on his recent two-part article in the Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute on the nature of kinship and his reply to critics. As a work of theoretical argument, it stands out in anthropology for two main reasons. First, it is an extended essay rather than a monograph, which is relatively […]

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

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 […]

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

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 […]

The Border in the Eye of the Beholder: Interculturalism in the Pacific

For more than a generation, anthropology has struggled with where to locate its object in space and time. On the one hand, ethnography has become unabashedly global and historical in scope; yet, on the other, anthropologists have never been content to set local cases against a larger background without also questioning how these levels and […]