Department of social anthropology seminar with Edvard Hviding

The Department of Social Anthropology has the pleasure to invite you to this week's seminar. Prof. Edvard Hviding from the Department of social anthropology,  University of Bergen, will present the following paper:

"But the Words Remain": Revelations of Knowledge and the Politics of Loss in Solomon Islands

This paper explores questions of cultural property and resource loss(es) in Melanesia. The context is one of global political economy and resource grabbing, focused on customary land in the Marovo Lagoon of Solomon Islands. The last two decades have seen much direct initiative from Asian companies to reach on-the-spot deals with customary land owners in the Solomons, with little or no government involvement. Local responses have also involved a level of institutionalization, such as legal hearings over who among customary land-holder representatives may claim recognized rights to sign deals with logging companies. During a particularly dense series of hearings in Marovo Lagoon, there was much surprise and emotion when carefully guarded stories of genealogy, exchange and place were brought successfully to bear in pitted local conflicts over resource rights on interior lands no longer claimed by any well-defined group. On these occasions when “hidden”, yet notionally non-secret, knowledge was voiced publicly in legal contexts, a pattern was discernible whereby ritual powers apparently lost since the advent of strong Protestant doctrines generations ago were reactivated through revelation by those in command of the hidden words of ritual speech and chiefly rhetoric. Recent developments of state collapse in Solomon Islands appear to have intensified the revelation, and diversified the uses, of such forms of knowledge, thus lending credit to the frequent observation that “words remain” and are forceful despite generations of material and cultural loss.

All are welcome!