State Absence and State Formation in Solomon Islands: Reflections on Agency, Scale and Hybridity

Development and Change

Author/s (editor/s):

Sinclair Dinnen, Matthew Allen

Publication year:

2016

Publication type:

Journal

Find this publication at:
Wiley Online Library

This article engages ethnographic research on perceptions of disputation, justice and security in rural Solomon Islands to reflect on issues of agency, power and scale in areas of limited statehood. Set against widespread popular perceptions of state retreat in Solomon Islands, the authors situate their study within the literature which addresses engagements with conflict-affected and fragile countries and, in particular, literature with an interest in the spaces created by prolonged state absence as potential sites of innovation and transformation. The article examines the role of agency and power at different scales in the highly contested processes of state formation underway in post-conflict Solomon Islands. Taking issue with the presumed privileging by local actors of non-state over state forms that runs through much of the hybridity literature, the authors suggest that international ‘state-building’ interventions, such as that recently experienced in Solomon Islands, require a more nuanced and historically informed understanding of local agency vis-à-vis the state in fragile and conflict-affected settings.

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