Author:Hisao Sekine (University of Tsukuba)
Paper short abstract:
In Solomon Islands, the transfer of administrative power to local government has been a political agenda. How do Solomon Islanders define their relation to nation states and local governance? This paper argues that Solomon Islands exists as a modern state from the perspective of the local people.
Paper long abstract:
In the Solomon Islands, domestic conflicts described as "ethnic tension" have occurred since 1998. Stemming from regional gaps in development benefits, this tension was caused by complaints against the current administration system, which does not provide benefits from natural exploitation (e.g., forestry) to the local people. In addition, people from the provinces are enraged with the central government for not completing economic development in local areas since independence. These situations, which have become issues since the outbreak of ethnic tension, have caused sentiments of alienation among the people and movements to change to a federal system or secede.
Solomon Islanders know through the experience of ethnic tension that the national government cannot respond properly to their expectations. The concept of "provincial society" in the contexts of ethnic tension and decentralization is based on the people's desire for development and their feelings of alienation. That is, provincial society can be called a "public sphere of development." The decentralization movement seeks to strengthen provincial authority based on provincial identity and conquer feelings of social alienation. In this context, provincial society for Solomon Islanders is the most important societal space for benefitting from development. Provincial society, however, is constantly exposed to judgment on whether it can meet the people's development expectations. This means people can always shift their identity from one societal space to another according to the conditions of development. Solomon Islanders maintain the nation state and deal with development by manipulating the "public sphere of development," as in the decentralization movement.
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