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Learning to Be a Kanaka

Menace and Mimicry in Papua New Guinea

Neil Maclean

Self-identification as a kanaka is a common rhetorical ploy in highlands Papua New Guinea, used to emphasize both a sense of economic and political marginalization, and a continued identification with tradition. However, I argue that the figure of the kanaka is not simply that of the villager, but of that terminated project of education, the ‘school leaver.’ I juxtapose the reflections of one such ‘school leaver’ on his exclusion from the educational trajectory with the celebrations and rhetoric surrounding the opening of a new village school. This throws into relief a village perspective on education, and what it means to be a citizen of the nation-state of Papua New Guinea. Bhabha’s (1987) analysis of colonial ‘mimicry’ informs my identification of the contradictory quality of this perspective. As a critique of the legacy of postwar education policy from the perspective of a contemporary generation of village leaders, the article is also intended as a response to Pels’s (1997: 178) call for “more ethnographies of decolonization.”

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'Seeing’ Papua New Guinea

Making Order and Disorder through a Petroleum Project

Steffen Dalsgaard

This article contributes to debates about how capitalist corporations ‘see’, and how they concurrently relate to the places where they are located. It argues that an analytical focus on ‘seeing’ illuminates how internal organization and outward relation making are tied together in complex ways. Even so, corporations of the extractive industries in particular cannot be assumed to encompass a single coherent view. The empirical case is a critical examination of how a gas project employed strict health, safety, and security measures to generate order when encountering alterity in an unfamiliar environment in Papua New Guinea. It reveals how the project was organized around two conflicting ways of seeing its host country—trying to separate itself from it while simultaneously having to engage and provide benefits for it.

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'It's Raining Money'

Anthropology, Film and Resource Extraction in Papua New Guinea

Emma Gilberthorpe

This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development. This article looks at the impact of money 'raining' on the indigenous hosts of a non-renewable resource extraction project in Papua New Guinea and the use of film media to record and disseminate the views of those caught up in it. 'Resource development', the gloss under which industries operate, is an ambiguous term as the cash (royalties) and services (roads, health centres, schools) accompanying resource extraction are only maintained during the life of a project. The anthropological use of film in extractive industry contexts is, I argue, an ideal methodological tool for documenting indigenous concerns, views and ambitions for a postindustry environment. Based on an ethnographic film made with the Fasu, hosts to a multinational oil extraction project in the fringe highlands, this article aims to highlight how film documentation can not only reveal the broader implications of a cash economy, but also be used by anthropologists to influence participatory research and bottom-up development.

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Uneven development in the Papua New Guinea highlands

Mining, corporate social responsibility, and the “life market”

Jerry K. Jacka

Over the last 20 years, Papua New Guinea has been at the center of a resource development boom as mining, petroleum, and logging companies extract the rich resources of this tropical Pacific island. As 97 percent of the country is owned by customary groups who correspondingly receive benefits from extraction, resource development has the potential to integrate local communities into the global economy in beneficial ways. Often, though, this is not the case, as small factions of landowners control the bulk of development proceeds. In this article, I examine the development of a coffee growing scheme adjacent to the world-class Porgera Gold Mine, intended to help local people who are marginal to mining benefit streams. Tragically, however, instead of engaging in coffee production, many disenfranchised young men in Porgera prefer to work in the “life market”—a term they use to describe tribal warfare in which groups not receiving benefits attack benefit-receiving groups in the attempt to extort monetary payments. Not only are individuals' lives at stake in the life market, but so too are the economic conditions—coffee and gold mining—that allow the life market's very existence.

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Steffen Dalsgaard

In sociological literature, the most commonly accepted meaning of 'the state' is based on a spatial definition that describes it as an entity exercising sovereignty within a bounded territory. However, the state is also made present in time, and state forms have a profound impact on the temporalities of social events and interaction, for instance, through rhythms and schedules. Consequently, this article discusses how the state in Manus Province, Papua New Guinea, can be understood with reference to temporality as much as to spatiality and materiality. Here, the state is seen as being personified in its politicians, who are in control of its resources. In this understanding, the state is both facilitated and limited by the presence, attention, and duration of the politicians, who are obliged to recognize personal relationships through which kin or acquaintances can challenge bureaucratic control of space and of time.

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Glenn Banks

The size and dramatic impact of the large-scale mines of Melanesia make a useful case study of the effects of economic globalization on local communities, particularly in terms of poverty and inequality. In the context of debates concerning globalization and poverty, this article examines the processes around large-scale mining at both the national and local scales. It argues that the issue of scale is critical to discussions of the links between poverty and globalization, with no evidence that large-scale mining has reduced poverty at the national level in Papua New Guinea over the last thirty years. Evidence is given from the Porgera mine of the effects of mining development at the local scale, with absolute poverty down but inequality increasing. Ethnographic detail helps to situate these processes in the dynamics of the local society. It is these locally grounded attributes that account for the production of inequality far better than generalized accounts of the 'culture of globalization'.

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Kuru, AIDS, and Witchcraft

Reconfiguring Culpability in Melanesia and Africa

Isak Niehaus

This article examines the significance of witchcraft accusations during the South African AIDS epidemic. In search of broader intercontextual understanding, I compare experiences of AIDS in Bushbuck ridge, where I have done fieldwork, with anthropological studies of kuru, a transmissible degenerative disease, in Papua New Guinea. Whereas scientists blamed the spread of kuru on the practice of cannibalism, those who were affected attributed it to sorcery. These dynamics resonate with the encounters between health workers and host populations during the AIDS epidemic in Bushbuckridge. Health propaganda attributed the rapid transmission of HIV to sexual promiscuity. In response, sufferers and their kin invoked witchcraft, shifting blame onto outsiders and reinforcing the relations that medical labeling threatened to disrupt. The comparison enables us to see witchcraft accusations as a means of reconfiguring culpability, cutting certain networks, and strengthening other existing configurations.

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Aspects of the Naven Ritual

Conversations with an Iatmul Woman of Papua New Guinea

Florence Weiss and Milan Stanek

Rituals are analyzed in anthropology as non-personal cultural structures, embedded in the overall behavioral patterns and semantic networks that are typical for a particular cultural group. This article focuses on the Iatmul people of Papua New Guinea and their ritual, naven, which features transvestite behavior and ritualized social roles. The authors discuss the ethno-psychoanalytic approach, which focuses on the psychodynamics of the relationship between two persons, the foreign researcher and his or her local counterpart, that develops in the course of a series of conversations. The narrative shifts to a case study involving Weiss and an Iatmul woman, Magendaua, which took place over three months. Their conversations particularly illuminate the meanings of the naven ritual. The use Magendaua made of the naven can be characterized as a transformation of the tensions in the relationship with her Swiss ethnographic-interlocutor and interpreted as a general feature of the rituals of this type.

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Eric Hirsch

In this issue’s forum, Nigel Rapport takes his lead from Georg Simmel, who asked how society is possible. Simmel notes that every individual has a sense of being connected to others, and it is through these connections that the individual has a ‘grasp of the whole complex as society’ (1971: 8). But this understanding is only realised through particular, concrete interactions. The individual in Simmel’s sociology, then, can only exist as an individual through this engagement with others – with, in short, ‘society’. It is this set of relations, it seems, that makes society possible. However, Simmel suggests that the picture an individual gains of the Other through personal contact is based on certain distortions – classifications of a general and conventional nature, some of which may be alienating. At the same time, Simmel also indicates that the individual simultaneously remains separate from society: ‘It seems, however, that every individual has in himself a core of individuality which cannot be re-created by anybody else whose core differs qualitatively from his own. . . . We cannot know completely the individuality of another’ (9–10).

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Jamon Alex Halvaksz and Heather E. Young-Leslie

The literature on environment-animal-human relations, place, and space, tends to emphasize cultural differences between global interests and local environmental practices. While this literature contributes substantially to our understanding of resource management, traditional ecological knowledge, and environmental protection, the work of key persons imbricated in both global and local positions has been elided. In this article, we propose a theory of “ecographers” as individuals particularly positioned to relate an indigenous epistemology of the local environment with reference to traditional and introduced forms of knowledge, practice, and uses of places, spaces, and inter-species relationships. We ground our analysis in ethnographic research among two Pacific communities, but draw parallels with individuals from varied ethnographic and environmental settings. This new concept offers a powerful cross-cultural approach to ecological strategizing relationships; one grounded by local yet globally and historically inflected agents of the present.