Author:Mia Browne (University of St. Andrews)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the fluidity with which the 'materiality' of relations evince being Rennellese, in relation to transforming socioeconomic configurations and the broader multicultural context of the Solomon Islands.
Paper long abstract:
On Mugava (Rennell), saying goodbye (hakanohoga) to guests are occasions to give mats, baskets and printed fabrics, collectively known as tetino, showing that they 'stayed with love' (inama'ine). At funerals, tetino might also be clothing, cloth or food, given to the family of the deceased and, along with mourning (magepe), is an important way of showing and sharing 'sorriness.' These are aspects of the Avaiki Way, the colloquialism that references ways of being Rennellese. They are situated in narratives of shared histories that are depicted through hanohano (lineages) and tagutupu'a (history stories), showing how people 'come out of place,' and the kinds of relations that these afford. Quintessentially Rennellese practices such as weaving are also depicted in this historical reckoning- stories recount how designs originated from women's dreams and the introduction of kie (pandanus) from the coast. Within this historical view, the 'flowing out' of knowledge and practices 'from before' are at the forefront of Rennellese concerns. While resonating with wider concerns regarding cultural heritage, they also fit within Rennellese narratives of decline; people becoming smaller, failing gardens and weakening leadership and sharing practices. Additionally, where conflicting mining, logging, conservation and development agendas often fail to meet expectations, the Avaiki Way inheres a moral register for articulating transformations. This paper explores how relations are creatively expressed in the production and flow of things, and considers the fluidity with which materiality evinces being Rennellese, amongst transforming socioeconomic configurations and the broader multicultural context of the Solomon Islands.
Mutable Materialities of Indigenous Ways of Life