Anthropology & Pacific Studies Seminar (5 September 2019)

Date Thursday 5 September 2019
Time 3:10pm - 4:40pm
Where K.G.06
Presenter Professor Peter Sheppard, Anthropology, University of Auckland
Contact Michael Goldsmith
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

‘Outrages’ in the Solomon Islands: Penetration of colonial capitalism into the Western Solomons

On the morning of September 25th 1891, at 10 AM, Captain Edward H.M. Davis of HMS Royalist, in command of 60 sailors and Royal Marines of the British navy, began to systematically burn the villages on the small island of Nusa Roviana located in Roviana Lagoon on the southwest coast of the island of New Georgia in the Solomon Islands. The following day, having completed the destruction on Nusa Roviana, they began burning villages on the coast of New Georgia a short distance across from Nusa Roviana, continuing this destruction west along this coast to the area known as Sisieta in the centre of what is today the small town of Munda. There Davis left the two canoes houses and house of a local chief Ingava intact, completing the action by 3 PM on the 26th. In total this destruction covered a coastline distance of approximately 6 km destroying the possessions and houses of perhaps over three thousand people. The immediate ostensible cause of this large punitive action was the murder of an Australian trader at a trading station in the Lagoon in 1889. The underlying ultimate cause was the desire of the British government to crush the chiefly political economy of Roviana and create a peasantry more amenable to the development of a colonial economy. This seminar investigates the struggle in the 19th century between the economics of Roviana and colonial capitalism.

Peter Sheppard first began archaeological research in the Solomon Islands in 1989 when Roger Green sent him to conduct a survey on Malaita for chert sources used by Lapita people. That began a love affair with the country and people which has continued for 30 years. Peter conducted extensive National Geographic- and Marsden-funded fieldwork over 10 years in Roviana lagoon of New Georgia. Another Marsden grant funded research on Vella Lavella, Rannonga and Ghizo islands. Completing that, he moved to the Eastern Solomons with fieldwork on Santa Ana and most recently Santa Cruz in Temotu Province. Most of this work has focused on prehistory, but in the last years he has turned to consideration of the history of the 19th century and the impact of British colonial expansion on the peoples of the Solomon Islands with a focus on the regions he has studied in the Western Solomons.