Politik is poison: the politics of memory among the Churches of Christ in northern Vanuatu
This thesis is an exploration of the ways in which past and present Churches of Christ worshippers from northern Vanuatu reflect on politik (Bislama: politics, political action but also much more). To comprehend what this term means to local people in Vanuatu, we must be aware of the contexts in which it is used, the events and relationships that are its exemplars and the local political economies of historical knowledge that inflect its meanings. To this end, this thesis explores the origins
... lores the origins of politik as described by my interlocutors through oral histories about the interplay between their church, state institutions and Nagriamel, a traditionalist movement which emerged on Santo in 1967 and spread quickly throughout the northern New Hebrides. Through an examination of the content of these spoken histories, this thesis suggests that politik is seen to have corroded the unity of pre-existing social groups, such as the church, which is considered by its adherents to be indigenous. As a contingent state of democracy, politik describes the unwanted aspects of modernity and nationhood based on the perceived emergence of hierarchies between indigenous people in the post-colonial state of Vanuatu. Given that the rise of Nagriamel is considered to have inspired the resurgence of kastom where previously it was proscribed, kastom is often seen by conventional worshippers to be something to endure rather than celebrate. Among Churches of Christ worshippers, the conflict between kastom and church doctrine is considered to constitute part of the conflict inherent in politik.¶ ...