This chapter examines the religious dimension of a complex power struggle at Bougainville, a small island group in Papua New Guinea, and elaborates the double role of religion as empowerment and inspiration of resistance. From 1988 until the late 1990s, people on Bougainville Island were immersed in a vicious war that destroyed nearly all infrastructure and social services. Religion, particularly Catholicism, played a major role during and after the crisis. The Bougainville struggle for independence was conceptualized as a holy war, whereby God was called upon in “an ideology of resistance”. People believed that peace could be achieved through prayers, especially pleas directed to Mary, the mother of Jesus Christ. Thus, Mary's power became intertwined with national identity constructions and attempts to realize a more just and responsible society at Bougainville. The Bougainville crisis demonstrates how nationalism, custom, and religion are intertwined and how they mutually enforced an ideology of warfare.
|Title of host publication
|Powers: Religion as a social and spiritual force
|Meerten B Ter Borg and Jan Willem Van Henten
|Place of Publication
|Fordham University Press
|Published - 2010