The thesis is based on six months of fieldwork in Vanuatu in 2010. The objective of the study is to examine ways in which community is produced and challenged on the small island of Ahamb, where I based most of my research.
Ahamb can be said to be a typical Melanesian composite society consisting of various patrilineal clans groups brought together by conversion processes in the first half of the 20th century. The patrilineal clans are termed nasara, which is a two dimensional concept referring to both the designate clan group and the place it regards as its origin. About a half of the Ahamb population regard themselves as autochthonous to the island through their nasara membership, while the other half descend from migrants coming from the neighbouring big island of Malakula.
In the post-colonial era, land in Vanuatu has gained new material value by the government attempts to attract foreign investors by opening up for long term land leases that in practice works as sales. Land is what the subsistence farmers in the region of South Malakula live of, and population growth and increasing needs of money also enhance the value of land. These are some of the reasons for many pressing land disputes today that bring about indigenous essentialisations of nasara belonging, breaching of norms for social relationships, and which separate the community.
In the thesis I will concentrate mainly on the counter-logics to disputes and separation, that are instead based on cooperation and togethernessThese are expressed in the works of the church, the comprehensive and multiple bonds of kinship, and a general morality of gifts and acknowledgement of social relations. To understand Ahamb dynamics of separation and unity I will discuss Louis Dumont concept of value hierarchies. I suggest that the dominant values in Ahamb society is centred around the production of relationships that is a condition for the solidarity and unity that also advocates the production of community.
In addition to being a brief ethnography of Ahamb socio-cultural life, the thesis is a modest contribution to the discussions on Pacific island societies encounter with various external influences, among them Christianity.