Morgan Brigg (Senior Lecturer, School of Political Science and International Studies)
The Colonial Shadow: Reconfiguring Governance for Conflict Management in Solomon Islands

Expectations around European-derived forms of governance in rural Solomon Islands developed through the colonial era and found expression in the local area councils system. But recent decades have seen the retreat of the state, most sharply with the so-called ethnic tensions of 1998-2003. This is not remedied by the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands, and has no serious prospect of being remedied by foreign aid and development assistance. In effect the colonial (and missionary) impact is partial, leaving rural Solomon Islands with a hybrid system of governance that combines elements of state, church and ‘kastom’.

Solomon Islanders have experience and some capacity with negotiating hybrid governance. In particular, an emphasis on relational systems and ways of doing governance grounded in kastom may speak back to the European-derived forms of governance in ways that promise to reconfigure them, and our thinking about governance, in the 21st Century. At the same time, the approach of many rural Solomon Islanders to governance appears to be thoroughly syncretic, combining a pragmatic desire for a better life (including through expectations of the state) with strong ties to identity and kastom.

Navigating the possibilities and challenges of these complex governance entanglements requires thinking through and facilitating exchange between differing governance registers and jurisdictions, and this in turn requires nimbleness and reflexivity on the part of Solomon Islands government administrators and donors. This presentation considers the foregoing issues through the lens of fieldwork and experience in statebuilding and peacebuilding efforts in Solomon Islands.


About The Pacific Colonial Shadow: New Approaches seminars

On Friday 19 August the UQ Anthropology Museum will open an exhibition on Solomon Islands, Solomon Islands: Re-enchantment and the Colonial Shadow curated by Dr Diana Young, director of the museum, in collaboration with Solomon Islands scholars including Emeritus Professor Clive Moore, Dr Graham Baines, Associate Professor Annie Ross and David Akin. The exhibition is "based on Chakrabarty’s call for narratives that are non-temporal and non -modern to think outside the dominant (European and Australian) approach to European history.” To coincide with this exhibition, the UQ Solomon Islands Partnership and the School of Historical and Philosophical Studies at The University of Queensland presents two days of seminars.

There is no cost to attend, but we would like some idea of numbers for catering purposes, for morning and afternoon tea.  Participants will be left to get their own lunches on campus; several places will be open.


Forgan Smith Building Tower (1)