The civil conflict in Solomon Islands (1998-2003) is often blamed on the failure of the nation-state to encompass culturally diverse and politically fragmented communities. Writing of Rangga Island, the author tracks engagements with strangers across many realms of life-pre-colonial warfare, Christian conversion, logging and conservation, even post-conflict state building. She describes startling reversals in which strangers become attached to local places, even as kinspeople are estranged from one ather and from their homes. Against stereotypes of rural insularity, she argues that a distinctive cosmopolitan openness to others is evident in the rural Solomons in times of war and peace.
Debra McDougall is Senior Lecturer at the University of Western Australia. She co-edited Christian Politics in Oceania with Matt Tomlinson (Berghahn, 2013) and has published chapters and articles on religion, politics, and sociality.