Chiefs: Sense of Belonging versus Power and Politics

  • Simonne Pauwels CREDO, France
Keywords: Pacific, chiefs, belonging, Micronesia, Fiji, Solomon Islands


As a guideline to reading the articles of the thematic section “Chiefs of the Pacific,” this introduction suggests differentiating sacred chiefs and secular chiefs, understanding them respectively as a person receiving respect and supplying blessings in a hierarchical order and as the same person (or another) when the context changes to attribute political and/or economic power to them and put them at the summit of a social stratification. The four articles illustrate how this distinction became particularly useful after colonization.


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Brison, Karen. 2007. Our Wealth Is Loving Each Other: Self and Society in Fiji. Lanham, MD: Lexington.

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Tuwere, Ilaitia S. 2002. Vanua: Towards a Fijian Theology of Place. Suva: Institute of Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific/Auckland: College of St John the Evangelist.

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White, Geoffrey. and Lamont Lindstrom. 1997. “Introduction: Chiefs Today.” In Chiefs Today: Traditional Pacific Leadership and the Postcolonial State, edited by G. White and L. Lindstrom (eds), 1–18. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press.

How to Cite
Pauwels, S. (1). Chiefs: Sense of Belonging versus Power and Politics. Anthropologica, 61(2), 183-199.
Thematic Section: Chiefs of the Pacific