Mortensen, Reid (2001) A voyage in God's canoe: law and legislation in Melanesia. In: O'Dair, Richard and Lewis, Andrew, (eds.) Law and religion. Current Legal Issues (v. 4). Oxford University Press, United Kingdom, pp. 509-528. ISBN 0-19-924660-2
|HTML Citation||EndNote||Dublin Core||Reference Manager|
Full text not available from this archive.
[Introduction]: A sense of the sacred permeates the cultures of Melanesia: a region among the world's most Christian but, at the same time, noted for the continuing influence of its indigenous beliefs and practices. Indeed, the religious has an honoured place in the political rhetoric of the region and is promoted as an agent of state-creation in all of its independent states: Papua New Guinea (PNG), Solomon Islands, Vanuatu, and Fiji. Early nationalists in these countries considered that effective decolonization would involve the inculturation of political institutions, civil law, and social obligation with Christian principles and custom. As Vanuatu's founding prime minister, Fr. Walter Lini, urged in his independence speech in 1980, 'God and custom must be the sail and steering paddle of our canoe.' For Lini, these would be central to national unity, state-creation, and development in multicultural Vanuatu. Lini's metaphor would be incomprehensible in Melanesia's most densely populated provinces in the New Guinea Highlands. It nevertheless encapsulates the central theme of any discussion of law and religion in the region: how the modern civil law can be reconciled with the deep religiosity of Melanesian peoples, expressed publicly in a commitment to both Christianity and custom. I intend to consider this question in light of the extensive cultural pluralism of the region. This requires an initial review of the political thinking about the role of religion in the development of a Melanesian jurisprudence, especially as this thinking has been expounded since these countries became independent in the 1970s. The relationship between religion and the civil law in Melanesia is then considered, and involves questions of constitutional symbolism, religious freedom, enforcement of custom, and, a different thing, custom as civil law-specifically, its appropriation in the sorcery laws. This allows a reconsideration of Melanesian thought about Church, custom, and civil law, and how religious freedom can be maintained in what has become a turbulent period for the independent Melanesian states.
|Item Type:||Book Chapter (Commonwealth Reporting Category B)|
|Additional Information:||Permanent restricted access to paper due to publisher copyright restrictions. Print copy not held USQ Library.|
|Uncontrolled Keywords:||law; legislation; religion; Melanesia|
|Fields of Research (FOR2008):||18 Law and Legal Studies > 1801 Law > 180116 International Law (excl. International Trade Law)|
|Subjects:||390000 Law, Justice and Law Enforcement > 390100 Law > 390111 International Law|
|Socio-Economic Objective (SEO2008):||UNSPECIFIED|
|Deposited On:||25 May 2009 08:37|
|Last Modified:||25 Jan 2010 15:48|
Archive Staff Only: edit this record