The Center for Pacific Islands Studies, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa
Pacific Islands Monograph Series
The Center for Pacific Islands Studies is pleased to announce the publication of two new volumes in its Pacific Islands Monograph Series (PIMS)—Colonialism, Maasina Rule, and the Origins of Malaita Kastom by David Akin (University of Michigan) and Kanak Awakening: The Rise of Nationalism in New Caledonia by David Chappell, UHM History Department and CPIS affiliate faculty.
Colonialism, Maasina Rule, and the Origins of Malaita Kastom by David Akin (PIMS 26) draws on extensive archival and field research to present a practice-based analysis of colonial officers’ interactions with Malaitans in the years leading up to and during Maasina Rule. A primary focus is the place of knowledge in the colonial administration. Many scholars have explored how various regimes deployed “colonial knowledge” of subject populations in Asia and Africa to reorder and rule them. The British imported to the Solomons models for “native administration” based on such an approach, particularly schemes of indirect rule developed in Africa. The concept of “custom” was basic to these schemes and to European understandings of Melanesians, and it was made the lynchpin of government policies that granted limited political roles to local ideas and practices. Officers knew very little about Malaitan cultures, however, and Malaitans seized the opportunity to transform custom into kastom, as the foundation for a new society. The book’s overarching topic is the dangerous road that colonial ignorance paved for policy makers, from young cadets in the field to high officials in distant Fiji and London. Today kastom remains a powerful concept on Malaita, but continued confusion regarding its origins, history, and meanings hampers understandings of contemporary Malaitan politics and of Malaitan people’s ongoing, problematic relations with the state. David Akin had spent many years doing research work on Malaita, especially East Kwaio. This book is a culmination of all these years of work.
David Akin at the ANU book launch
Colonialism, Maasina Rule, and the Origins of Malaita Kastom was launched in a ceremony at the Australian National University (ANU) on 5 November 2013, coinciding with the Solomon Islands Transition Workshop. Esau Kekeubata, a nurse aid from East Kwaio on Malaita and a good friend of the author, David Akin, gave the opening speech to launch the book. Esau expressed his appreciation to David for inviting him and facilitating his travel to Canberra to participate in the workshop and launch the book. Mr Kekeubata told the guests at the launch that the people of Kwaio welcome researchers, but they must get permission before doing any research, otherwise they will be “killed”—meaning they will be misinformed. PIMS editor Tarcisius Kabutaulaka, was also present and spoke at the launch.
Matthew Allen’s Greed and Grievance: Ex-Militants’ Perspectives on the Conflict in Solomon Islands, 1998–2003, published by the University of Hawaiʻi Press, was also launched during the Solomon Islands Transition Workshop.
Kanak Awakening: The Rise of Nationalism in New Caledonia by David Chappell (PIMS 27) was also published in November 2013. This study examines the rise in New Caledonia of rival identity formations that became increasingly polarized in the 1970s and examines in particular the emergence of activist discourses in favor of Kanak cultural nationalism and land reform, multiracial progressive sovereignty, or a combination of both aspirations. Most studies of modern New Caledonia focus on the violent 1980s uprising, which left deep scars on local memories and identities. Yet the genesis of that rebellion began with a handful of university students who painted graffiti on public buildings in 1969, and such activists discussed many of the same issues that face the country’s leadership today. After examining the historical, cultural, and intellectual background of that movement, this work draws on new research in public and private archives and interviews with participants to trace the rise of a nationalist movement that ultimately restored self-government and legalized indigenous aspirations for sovereignty in a local citizenship with its own symbols. Kanak now govern two out of three provinces and have an important voice in the Congress of New Caledonia, but they are a slight demographic minority. Their quest for nationhood must achieve consensus with the immigrant communities, much as the founders of the independence movement in the 1970s recommended.
Remaking Pacific Pasts: History, Memory, and Identity in Contemporary Theatre from Oceania by Diana Looser, University of Queensland, is forthcoming as PIMS 28.
Three out-of-print PIMS volumes are now available as PDFs for free download from ScholarSpace, UH Mānoa’s open-access, digital institutional repository. The three books are the following: Upon a Stone Altar: A History of the Island of Pohnpei to 1890, by David Hanlon (1988; PIMS 5)
http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/25823 Missionary Lives: Papua, 1874–1914, by Diane Langmore (1989; PIMS 6)
http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/25825 The Pacific Theater: Island Representations of World War II, edited by Geoffrey M White and Lamont Lindstrom (1989; PIMS 8)
These books join the other CPIS publications now freely available from ScholarSpace: all the back issues of The Contemporary Pacific, all of the center’s Occasional Papers, and many years’ worth of the center’s newsletters. See the complete lists at http://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/handle/10125/2826.