Today, most indigenous Fijians are Christians, and the Methodist Church is the foundation of their social and political lives. Yet, as this thought-provoking study of life on rural Kadavu Island finds, Fijians also believe that their ancestors possessed an inherent strength that is lacking in the present day. Looking in particular at the interaction between the church and the traditional chiefly system, Matt Tomlinson finds that this belief about the superiority of the past provokes great anxiety, and that Fijians seek ways of recovering this strength through ritual and political action - Christianity itself simultaneously generates a sense of loss and the means of recuperation. To unravel the cultural dynamics of Christianity in Fiji, Tomlinson explores how this loss is expressed through everyday language and practices.
Matt Tomlinson is Lecturer in Anthropology at Monash University in Australia and coeditor of The Limits of Meaning: Case Studies in the Anthropology of Christianity.
List of Illustrations Preface and Acknowledgments PART ONE: SITUATION Introduction 1. Situating Kadavu: Church, Chiefs, and the Creation of a Sense of Loss PART TWO: LAMENTATION 2. Signs of the Golden Age 3. Sermons 4. Kava 5. Sacred Land and the Power of Prayer PART THREE: RECUPERATION 6. Onward Christian Soldiers 7. The Road to Damascus Runs through Waisomo Village Notes References Index