'A calling from God': politicians and religiosity in the Pacific Islands

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Abstract

Despite its relative absence from much of the literature on politics in the Pacific region, religiosity is an assumed and often unchallenged component of political life. Drawing from more than 100 in-depth biographical interviews with politicians, around 40 published life histories and other publicly available material, this article uses Pierre Bourdieu's concept of 'habitus' to explore how politicians see the role of faith and religious association contributing to their public profile, election campaigning, representative and legislative functions, and 'inner' life. It advances two arguments: firstly, that ideal analytic distinctions like state, society and religion become problematic in the Pacific Islands where political leaders tend to occupy multiple roles and assume overlapping identities; and, secondly, that despite the overwhelming religiosity seemingly apparent in public rhetoric, secularization is an effervescent narrative across the region with politicians vocal protagonists on all sides of this debate.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-297
Number of pages15
JournalGlobal Change, Peace & Security
Volume25
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2013
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • habitus
  • Pacific Islands
  • practice
  • religiosity
  • secularization

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