Resisting RAMSI: Intervention, identity and symbolism in Solomon Islands

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    Abstract

    The Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands (RAMSI) continues to enjoy high levels of approval amongst Solomon Islanders. However, this approval belies the existence of a minority, but nevertheless important, dissenting perspective, one which has mostly emanated from Malaitan quarters. How are we to interpret Malaitan expressions of opposition to RAMSI? While these dissenting voices can, in part, be seen through a lens of legal and economic rationality, Malaitan opposition to RAMSI must be properly located within a deeper tradition of Malaitan resistance to the imposition of alien and centralised authority. Malaitans have responded to the RAMSI intervention by invoking kastom as a symbol of difference, unity and resistance, just as they have done in the past. It is argued that resistance to RAMSI must be (re)interpreted as having fundamentally cultural and historical underpinnings. Resisting RAMSI is as much about asserting culture and identity as it is about money and power. This argument is drawn out through an historically contextu-alised analysis of contemporary articulations of Malaitan resistance. The voices examined come from the public statements of prominent Malaitans, the published manifesto of the Malaita Ma'asina Forum, and interviews with former members of the Malaita Eagle Force.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-17
    JournalOceania
    Volume79
    Issue number1
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2009

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