Accepted paper:

The amazing Melanesian Brotherhood: stories of an Anglican order from Isabel, Solomon Islands

Author:

Ben Hall (Esri Australia)

Paper short abstract:

In this paper I draw on my fieldwork in Isabel, Solomon Islands and examine the way the Melanesian Brotherhood generates ‘wonder discourses’ through their power to detect and clear harmful sorcery.

Paper long abstract:

The Melanesian Brotherhood (Tasui) are an Anglican order of monks in the Church of Melanesia and renowned across Solomon Islands for their Christian power. Established in 1925 by Ini Korporia, the order's goal was to convert the remaining heathens of Solomon Islands. Today, the order continues to be experienced and imagined as a wondrous Christian institution which will rid rural Solomon Islands of harmful sorcery and malevolent ancestral beings. In this paper I draw on my fieldwork in Isabel, Solomon Islands and examine ethnographically the way the Brotherhood generates 'wonder discourses' through their power to detect and clear harmful sorcery. But the awe and esteem in which they are held is double-edged because in coming to clear a village of sorcery they also sanction the autochthonous power of local groups as well as the secret knowledge of ritual specialists to command autochthonous beings. In this paper I argue that it is through these stories and rumours of their amazing spiritual feats that the Brotherhood are being re-imagined as the adjudicators of autochthonous power and in so doing have become entangled in land disputes and church schism in Isabel, Solomon Islands.

panel Rel01
The social formation of wonder