Anthropology Seminar Series 2019

Date Thursday 1 August 2019
Time 3:10pm - 4:30pm
Where K.G.06 (K Block, Ground Floor, University of Waikato)
Presenter Fraser Macdonald
Contact Mike Goldsmith
Contact email
Admission Cost Free

Islands on Fire: The Politics of Religious Revival in Malaita, Solomon Islands.

In early August 1970, an intense Pentecostal Christian revival broke out within the South Seas Evangelical Church (SSEC) on the island of Malaita, Solomon Islands.

Thousands of people from communities across the island experienced what theologians refer to as an ‘evangelical

awakening’ that is, a powerful resurrection of the Acts of the Apostles, including speaking in tongues, casting out

local spirits perceived as demonic, healing, and prophetic visions. The revival would subsequently sweep through

Solomon Islands and then be transplanted to Papua New Guinea, definitively reshaping spirituality and worship

throughout the region. As manifest in Malaita, the revival was significant for asserting a unique Christian identity

and style of worship that directly opposed the teachings of the parent South Seas Evangelical Mission (SSEM), who did

not support, and who could not control, the indigenously orchestrated movement.

My preliminary analysis of the revival’s genesis, then, as well as acknowledging specifically spiritual and cultural

factors, trains attention upon the political ethos of the movement, and argues that the revival expressed in the

religious arena the impetus towards self-determinism that Malaitans had used to powerfully remodel imposed

governmental structures over preceding decades.