The Culture of agreement making in Solomon Islands

Joseph D. Foukona, Jaap Timmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Current growing interest in mining in Solomon Islands warrants critical reflection on the centrality of natural resources in the post-colonial formation of state society interactions, in particular, as they have been shaped by decades of forestry resources extraction. Since independence in 1978 waves of Malaysian, Taiwanese, Korean, Australian and Japanese investors have developed natural resource extraction projects. Not only have these projects been poorly regulated, they have entwined politicians, leaders and landholders with the state as an economic agent with its own base of economic power. As a result, wealth in Solomon Islands is highly politicised and dependent on the bargaining position of the state and foreign investors (Bennett 1987, 2002). Instead of looking at the failures of the state, as is common in political science approaches to Solomon Islands, we draw on case studies in forestry, mining, and customary land dealings on the island of Malaita and on the Weathercoast of Guadalcanal to highlight the kinds of social networks that enable agreements over the use of natural resources. Challenging common assumptions about the division between state and society, we show that leaders in rural regions of Solomon Islands behave like landlords, that brokers from the communities see themselves as actors equalling the state, and that the state performs like a capitalist actor.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)116-131
Number of pages16
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jul 2016


  • agreement making
  • brokers and brokerage
  • state-society relations
  • state
  • mining
  • logging
  • fishery
  • tourism
  • hydro plants


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