Fa'aola Fanua: A Samoan Public Theology of Taking Care of Custonary Land (Fauna faa-le-aganuu)

Charles Tupu

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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The purpose of this thesis is to build upon previous research into a public theology crafted for the Samoan cultural context. In this particular instance the disciplinary insights of a globalized public theology are set inside a redemption-centred contextual theology. The public issue at stake is one of customary land and the merits of otherwise of the Land Titles Registration Act 2008. Should the title of customary land be transferred to individual title or should it remain within the preserve of the extended aiga and thus protect the access of such lands for future generations? Lying behind this choice are contested understandings to do with economic development and the pressure brought to bear on the Samoan government and economy by external forces like the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and the Australian government. The reaction to the LTRA 2008 has led to political protest, the emergence of new political parties and an alarming constitutional crisis.
The response of the Methodist Church and its ecumenical partners has largely been one of silence. To some extent that is a consequence of cultural protocols of respect and a legacy of missionary theology. That legacy is mediated through the ‘sung theology’ of the Church. The case is made for a public theology that emphasizes a more prophetic understanding to faith and a Christopraxis that flows from a re-reading of the conventional understanding of Jesus Christ as ‘saviour of the world’ – the fa’aola fanua.
The thesis depends upon the metaphor of the silagātoga custom. It permeates the entire thesis and presupposes a series of ‘offerings’ from a range of theological sources – including previous work on a Samoan public theology as well as a critical use of local examples of a contextual theology. In making use of such a method it seeks to ground the discussion of a public theology into a recognizable Samoan cultural practice; it also seeks to place the thesis within the growing body of a globalized discourse on the intersection of world Christianity and a public theology.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Charles Sturt University
  • Pearson, Clive, Principal Supervisor
  • Carroll, Seforosa, Co-Supervisor
Award date17 Mar 2022
Place of PublicationAustralia
Publication statusPublished - 21 Mar 2022


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