The Pacific Way of Development and Christian Theology




Christianity, theology, development, Pacific Islands, Pacific Way


Since the era of national independence in the Pacific Islands, many indigenous leaders have attempted to articulate a ‘Pacific Way’ aimed at developing island states along lines true to a shared past. Drawing on emblematic regional practices held to foster communalism, dialogue, and consensus, Pacific Way advocates have argued that Oceanic cultures hold the key to their own postcolonial development by drawing on what they share with their neighbours and what distinguishes them from the Western and global. In this article, I describe how some of the most vigorous and sustained attempts to cultivate a Pacific Way – discursively, at least – have arisen in indigenous Christian theology. I ask what the articulation of a Pacific Way accomplishes for the theologians who use such a figure, and what its implications are for understanding development as a practice with an inherently spiritual aspect.

Author Biography

Matt Tomlinson

Matt Tomlinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of Oslo, and at the Australian National University. He has conducted research in Fiji since 1996, and more recently in Samoa, American Samoa, and New Zealand. He is the author of In God’s Image: The Metaculture of Fijian Christianity (2009) and Ritual Textuality: Pattern and Motion in Performance (2014), as well as the co-editor of several volumes, most recently The Monologic Imagination (with Julian Millie, 2017).




How to Cite

Tomlinson, M. (2019). The Pacific Way of Development and Christian Theology. Sites: A Journal of Social Anthropology and Cultural Studies, 16(1).