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A hard stone people : social relations and the nation state in the Vaturanga District, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands Ryniker, David Craig

Abstract

Studies of nation-states have tended to emphasize how they form a common national culture and the systems and institutions involved. This has included notions about the past, territory, language, and popular culture, among others. Many such studies hypothesize the role of media and publishing in establishing the modern nation-state as a sort of "imagined community" or a "creolized culture." This study, which looks at a local people called the Vaturanga, who live in northwestern Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, approaches the subject from the point of view of economic and communicative behaviours. It is my contention that the dynamic events and features frequently seen in modern and especially post-colonial nation-states can best be explained by reference to a constellation of relationships or associations: the divergent social networks to which people have access. The Vaturanga and their neighbours in rural Guadalcanal and their distant kin in town, illustrate these divergent social networks in such matters as economic change, ethnic relations, language and communication, and the mass media. Economic behaviours must be maintained by communication. This includes both the avenues of communication, and the meanings and symbols employed. This study especially focuses on the latter as a means to understand and comprehend the lives of the Vaturanga.

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