Religion and Violence in Pacific Island Societies

Andrew Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart

in The Oxford Handbook of Religion and Violence

Published in print January 2013 | ISBN: 9780199759996
Published online March 2013 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Religion and Violence in Pacific Island Societies

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This chapter examines the associations between religion and violence. The Bellonese case reveals that the ideology of honor drove the pattern of vengeance killings; that this ideology primarily pertained to men and their agnatic kin; that it was supported by appeals to gods and ancestors; and that peace rituals did not produce permanent effects. In the Fijian case, it is shown that war-chief and land-chief were ideally balanced with each other, the one standing for external violence, the other for internal peace. In Bau, this balance was upset and inverted due to the sea-going war-chiefs who came to engage a pre-eminent position by terminating the land-chiefs. In the New Guinea Highlands societies, a higher development of an ideology of wealth used is observed as a life-giving replacement for persons, whether for bridewealth payments, payments to allies, or compensation to enemies.

Keywords: religion; violence; Bellonese case; Fijian case; Bau; New Guinea Highlands; wealth

Article.  8156 words. 

Subjects: Religion ; Religious Studies

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