Supposed Figure of a Woman?' Homosociality in the British Solomon Islands, 1880-1940

Date
2006
Authors
Goodwin, Bryonny
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Abstract
Drawing from research conducted in the Western Pacific High Commission archival collection, this project is based upon colonial conditions in the British Solomon Islands Protectorate (B.S.I.P.), ranging from 1880 (the earliest records) to 1940 (the outbreak of war in the Pacific). Focussing upon the extant correspondence between the Protectorate administration and the High Commission, I trace the development of a colonial culture in the margins of empire. That culture was marked by the homosocial governance of native men by white men. Ethnographically engaging with archival documents, I seek to move discussion of homosociality beyond Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick’s (1985) foundational analysis into a territory specifically colonial, and specifically raced. Fundamentally, I diverge from Sedgwick’s triangular delineation in which homosociality emerges from male rivalry over women, positing instead that it was a relationship conjured and manipulated by colonialists, defending a masculine ‘world in miniature’ (Keesing and Corris 1980) that excluded, if not maligned, women. Rather than rivalry, homosociality was born in the foundational violence of early imperial confrontation. I demonstrate how the destructive demonstrations of naval punitive investigations morphed into such a male-centred and anti-female phenomenon, and specifically read its manifestations in regard to the bureaucratic judicial system and debates over adultery legislation. This delineation is in contradistinction to dominant studies of colonial cultures which have often identified a strong fear of miscegenation as the underlying force of propulsion. Instead, through both examining masculinity for and of itself, and reorienting the lens of analysis away from the heteronormative, fruitful lines of anthropological enquiry and disruptive conclusions emerge.
Description
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Auckland, 2006.
Anthropology
Keywords
Solomon Islands, colonialism, masculinity, homoeroticism, violence
Citation
Goodwin, Bryonny. 2006. "Supposed Figure of a Woman?" Homosociality in the British Solomon Islands, 1880-1940. M.A. thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Auckland.
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