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Greed and Grievance

Ex-Militants' Perspectives on the Conflict in Solomon Islands, 1998-2003

Matthew G. Allen

Publication Year: 2013

This work offers important new perspectives on the violence and unrest that gripped Solomon Islands between late 1998 and mid-2003, a period known as the Ethnic Tension. Based on in-depth interviews and documents associated with the “Tension Trials,” it is the first detailed account of the conflict that engages directly with the voices of the men who joined the rival militant groups. These contemporary voices are presented against the backdrop of the socioeconomic and cultural history of Solomon Islands.

The findings provide a refreshing corrective to the pervasive framing of the Isatabu uprising and the Malaitan response as essentially criminal and apolitical activities driven by the self-interest of those who participated in them. Alternative motives for the men who participated in the Solomons conflict are elucidated, foremost of which are their own conceptions of history and of the places of their respective peoples in the historical processes of colonization, development, and nation-building. Uneven development, relative deprivation and rapid socioeconomic and cultural change are highlighted as salient structural causes of the unrest.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page, Other Works in the Series, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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From the General Editor

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pp. vii-viii

Matthew Allen's Greed and Grievance is the second volume in the Topics in the Contemporary Pacific series published by the University of Hawai'i Press. The book is about understanding the violence and disorder that gripped Solomon Islands between 1998 and 2003. Much has been written about this tragic episode in the recent history of Solomon Islands, ...

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

The bulk of the research conducted for this book was carried out between 2004 and 2007. Fieldwork, in the form of interviews and the collection of documentary material, was undertaken in 2005 and 2006. I subsequently returned to Solomon Islands for shorter trips in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, and 2011, none of which were for the explicit purpose of ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xi-xiv

This book is primarily dedicated to the thirty-nine "ex-militants" who generously shared their stories with me. For reasons of confidentiality, they remain unnamed. I am also grateful to the many other Solomon Islanders who went out of their way to talk to me about their experiences during the years of violence and hardship. ...

Bibliographic Conventions

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pp. xiv-xvi

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Chapter 1 Introduction

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pp. 1-29

Jonwin was born in 1978 at a village on the remote and rugged Weather Coast of Guadalcanal, an area known locally as Tasi Mauri (meaning "rough sea"). He described to me how he was raised in a landscape rich with stories and meaning and how his land was, and still is, contoured by sacred sites and ancestral shrines, a tapestry of places of spiritual, ...

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Chapter 2 Solomon Islands and the Tension

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pp. 30-60

This chapter introduces the social, political, and economic context of Solomon Islands; provides a factual chronological account of the conflict; and briefly examines the differing interpretations of the “causes” of the conflict proposed in the academic literature to date. Some aspects of the socioeconomic history of Solomon Islands that are revisited in the...

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Chapter 3 Kastom, Class, and Colonization

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pp. 61-102

This chapter locates Malaita and Guadalcanal in the socioeconomic and political history of Solomon Islands from the early contact period. It provides the context for the voices of ex-militants that are introduced over the next two chapters. The “objective” history told here both challenges and corroborates the subjective historical narratives of ...

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Chapter 4 Guadalcanal: The Contested Motherland

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pp. 103-136

In examining the motives of the Guale militants, we can distinguish several different sets, associated with the different phases of the conflict on Guadalcanal and with the different Guale militant groups. A crucial point of difference revolves around the schism that eventually saw the complete separation of the Guadalcanal Liberation Front (GLF), led ...

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Chapter 5 Saving the Solomons: The Malaita Eagle Force

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pp. 137-156

This chapter considers the motives of the men who joined the Malaita Eagle Force (MEF) from the time of its formation in the latter part of 1999. As was the case in chapter 4, the primary focus is upon the voices of the ex-militants—rank-and-file members of the MEF and also some “field commanders” and former members of the RSIP—as opposed ...

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Chapter 6 Continuities and Symmetries

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pp. 157-177

The voices of the ex-militants examined over the previous two chapters encourage us to see them as narrators of ethnohistory. They are active participants in the creation and perpetuation of the micronationalist narratives that have waxed and waned in intensity since before World War II. During the Tension, both “sides” evoked images of the ...

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Chapter 7 The State, Resources, Identity, and Conflict

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pp. 178-188

This book gives a voice to some of the hundreds of men who joined the militant groups during the recent conflict in Solomon Islands. The voices of these men have thus far been underrepresented in journalistic and scholarly accounts of the conflict. Nonetheless, many of these accounts have portrayed their motives in terms of greed and criminality....

Appendix 1 "A Brief History of Ethnic Tension (South Guadalcanal)"

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pp. 189-192

Appendix 2 "Guadalcanal Struggle for Freedom: Our History in Brief"

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pp. 193-196

Notes

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pp. 197-216

References

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pp. 217-234

Index

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pp. 235-247

Production Notes, Back Cover

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pp. 248-249


E-ISBN-13: 9780824839222
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824838546

Publication Year: 2013