Fragments of Youth: Young Men and the State in Honiara, Solomon Islands

In this thesis pre-submission seminar Daniel Evans explains his research centred on the lives of a group of young men who live in and around Honiara. Based on field work conducted in 2016 in two urban communities, Burns Creek and White River, and employing interviews and participant observation, he describes how his informants engage with their state. In doing so, he presents a typically underarticulated perspective: that of unemployed and under-schooled young male urbanites. Daniel’s project assesses the nature of the contemporary Solomon Islands state, state-society relations and state-formation as perceived and experienced by its young male citizens. His findings challenge framings of male youth centred on deficit as evidenced in popular discourse, policy engagements and strands of academic literature. More broadly, Daniel’s exploration reveals dynamic elements of young urban men’s socio-economic positioning, worldview and day-to-day life, as well as insights into the physical spaces that they inhabit and engage with.

Daniel argues that in the main the young men he studied had a problematic relationship with the Solomon Islands’ state, albeit one that was difficult to neatly categorise and not amenable to definition by reference to rigid binaries. He argues that while the state was generally considered legitimate by his informants, it was also simultaneously resisted and preyed upon when the circumstances warranted. He suggests that improvements in the state-youth relationship will not necessarily flow from discrete, technical interventions by the state or others.

Daniel Evans became a PhD candidate at DPA, Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University in 2015. Daniel has had a long-term association with Melanesia, having lived and worked for over a decade in Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

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