Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State
This volume presents detailed analyses of the accommodations between chiefs and states in thirteen Pacific societies. In some states, traditional perquisites and political authority have overlapped so that the state is a contemporary form of chiefdom. Elsewhere, chiefs operate as a mechanism of local accommodation to centralized state authority, facilitating state operations in the local community. In still other states, local chiefs have risen up against central authority, leading their communities in opposition to the state and its depredations. In each case, the chief is a focus for cultural struggle in the border zones of local, national, and transnational politics. The renewed significance of chiefs, and the discussions and disagreements that surround them, are a vital part of debates about identity and power in the Pacific today. In some cases, these debates produce calls for the revitalization and reempowerment of chiefs; in others, they spark attempts to constrict or otherwise regulate their powers. In either instance, these controversies provide a window into social and political transformation in postcolonial states today. The Pacific societies treated are: Federated States of Micronesia, Fiji, Marshall Islands, Rotuma, Solomon Islands, Tana Toraja (Indonesia), Tonga, Vanuatu, Western Samoa, and New Zealand.
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