Clearing curses, commanding crocodiles: observations of atypical events in rural Solomon Islands

Aug 11, 2017 10:30 · 193 words · 1 minute read cosmology Melanesia prophets chiefs logging

This is my first publication! In the article I talk about the politics of wonder especially in the current era of rising land disputes associated with logging royalties. If you are keen for a read then send me a private message using twitter.


Solomon Islanders draw on stories of their ancestral origins to understand changes in their political and economic circumstances. These stories associate the power of the ancestors with their contemporary social world and both respond to and change the politico-religious environment in which they are told. In this article I draw on my fieldwork in Isabel, Solomon Islands and present the oral testimony of how a man came to have command over crocodiles. I also present two examples of a practice called a ‘clearance’, the outcome of which is to clear a harmful curse placed upon a dwelling. These cases support the argument that the effervescence of wonder discourses in a community are a sign of new ontological categories on the make. However, I conclude by cautioning how far this argument can be taken in light of other approaches anthropologists have taken to anomie and social discord in human societies.