Colin Filer

Colin Filer is an Associate Professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.

orcid http://orcid.org/0000-0001-7503-4377

Large-scale Mines and Local-level Politics »

Between New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea

Despite the difference in their populations and political status, New Caledonia and Papua New Guinea have comparable levels of economic dependence on the extraction and export of mineral resources. For this reason, the costs and benefits of large-scale mining projects for indigenous communities has been a major political issue in both jurisdictions, and one that has come to be negotiated through multiple channels at different levels of political organisation. The ‘resource boom’ that took place in the early years of the current century has only served to intensify the political contests and conflicts that surround the distribution of social, economic and environmental costs and benefits between community members and other ‘stakeholders’ in the large-scale mining industry. However, the mutual isolation of Anglophone and Francophone scholars has formed a barrier to systematic comparison of the relationship between large-scale mines and local-level politics in Papua New Guinea and New Caledonia, despite their geographical proximity. This collection of essays represents an effort to overcome this barrier, but is also intended as a major contribution to the growth of academic and political debate about the social impact of the large-scale mining industry in Melanesia and beyond.

Kastom, property and ideology »

Land transformations in Melanesia

The relationship between customary land tenure and ‘modern’ forms of landed property has been a major political issue in the ‘Spearhead’ states of Melanesia since the late colonial period, and is even more pressing today, as the region is subject to its own version of what is described in the international literature as a new ‘land rush’ or ‘land grab’ in developing countries. This volume aims to test the application of one particular theoretical framework to the Melanesian version of this phenomenon, which is the framework put forward by Derek Hall, Philip Hirsch and Tania Murray Li in their 2011 book, Powers of Exclusion: Land Dilemmas in Southeast Asia. Since that framework emerged from studies of the agrarian transition in Southeast Asia, the key question addressed in this volume is whether ‘land transformations’ in Melanesia are proceeding in a similar direction, or whether they take a somewhat different form because of the particular nature of Melanesian political economies or social institutions. The contributors to this volume all deal with this question from the point of view of their own direct engagement with different aspects of the land policy process in particular countries. Aside from discussion of the agrarian transition in Melanesia, particular attention is also paid to the growing problem of land access in urban areas and the gendered nature of landed property relations in this region.

Tropical Forests Of Oceania »

Anthropological Perspectives

Edited by: Joshua A. Bell, Paige West, Colin Filer
The tropical forests of Oceania are an enduring source of concern for indigenous communities, for the migrants who move to them, for the states that encompass them within their borders, for the multilateral institutions and aid agencies, and for the non-governmental organisations that focus on their conservation.  Grounded in the perspective of political ecology, contributors to this volume approach forests as socially alive spaces produced by a confluence of local histories and global circulations. In doing so, they collectively explore the multiple ways in which these forests come into view and therefore into being. Exploring the local dynamics within and around these forests provides an insight into regional issues that have global resonance. Intertwined as they are with cosmological beliefs and livelihoods, as sites of biodiversity and Western desire, these forests have been and are still being transformed by the interaction of foreign and local entities. Focusing on case studies from Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands and the Gambier Islands, this volume brings new perspectives on how Pacific Islanders continue to creatively engage with the various processes at play in and around their forests.

Dilemmas of Development »

The social and economic impact of the Porgera gold mine

Edited by: Colin Filer
The Porgera gold mine in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea is technically one of the most sophisticated and successful mines of recent times. In its second year of operations (1992) it was the third largest gold producing mine in the world. Socially, though, the mine has brought a range of massive changes for the local Ipili community-both positive and negative. Dilemmas of Development is a record of a series of studies of the social and economic effects of the Porgerta mine, commissioned by the Porgera Joint Vemture (PJV).