Mobile Religion on Ancestral Ground: Rituals of Christian Conversion in the Western Solomon Islands
Keywords:ancestral religion, Christianity, conversion, ethnohistory, Paciﬁc Islands
AbstractConversion to Christianity from an ancestral religion is often depicted as a move from a closed world of local spirits to a radically open world of a transcendent God. This article focuses on the Paci?c Islands, one of the most thoroughly Christian parts of the world, where people themselves often describe conversion as a move from a local to a global world. Drawing on ethnohistorical research conducted over a period of decades on the island of Ranongga in the Western Province of Solomon Islands, this article focuses on narratives about the arrival of Christianity and stories recounting the efforts of indigenous missionaries to establish Christianity in local places. It complicates a simple but compelling contrast between Christian universalism and ancestral localism by showing that many ancestral powers had themselves come from afar and new converts drew on old ritual techniques for conquering localized powers and installing their new God.
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