From humble beginnings in the 1960s, the United Church Women's Fellowship (UCWF) is now viewed as one of the most effective organizations on the island of Ranongga (Western province, Solomon Islands). This essay considers reasons for the success of women's fellowship in Ranongga, focusing on the distinctive position of women in gendered local and translocal forms of social organization. Far from being isolated from the outside world, Ranonagan women have long been engaged in drawing outsiders into local communities. I explore this theme in narratives of Christian conversion and of the beginning of women's fellowship; I also consider the practices of local and national women's fellowship groups that work to constitute unified communities out of diverse groups of people. My discussion of Ranonggan women's fellowship illustrates local dynamics of community-making that do not map easily on to dominant models of nation-states and ethnic groups. I ask whether the UCWF provides an alternative model for thinking about larger-scale political formations, particularly in the Solomons. This question is especially relevant considering the significant contribution that women's Christian organizations have made in efforts to reconstitute a national community in the context of the ongoing political crisis in Solomon Islands.
|Publication status||Published - 2003|