The 'Seven Wonders' of Makira and the transformation of being in southeast Solomon Islands
Michael W. Scott
(London School of Economics)
Paper short abstract:
Based on research in Solomon Islands, this paper offers an ethnographic response to a key question in the anthropology of wonder, viz. what ontological implications might flow from locating being not in what is known but in that towards which wonder draws one?
Paper long abstract:
What ontological implications might flow from locating being not in what is known but in that towards which wonder draws one? In this paper I address this question ethnographically by exploring the varied discourses and phenomena that Arosi know as the Seven Wonders, Biu Ha'abo'uahu, of Makira (Solomon Islands). Arosi say that these wonders comprise such elements as a 'door' in a steep limestone cliff, an under-sea freshwater spring, and even the Roman Empire. All are associated with geophysical features along the western coast of the island of Makira. Taken together, the Seven Wonders are experienced locally as only one of several currents in an 'open sea of endless questioning, strangeness, and impossibility' - to borrow an apt phrase from the philosopher of religion, Mary-Jane Rubenstein (2008: 5). I argue that these Arosi 'wonder discourses', as I call them, not only evince but also actively produce wonder in ways that inform and advance processes of ontological transformation.
The social formation of wonder