James Weiner

James F. Weiner is a visiting fellow with the Crawford School of Public Policy and a consultant anthropologist based in Canberra, Australia. He has spent over three years in Papua New Guinea with the Foi people of the Southern Highlands Province, whose language he speaks. He has written four books on the Foi, including The Empty Place (1991), a study of the cultural relationship of the Foi to their land and territory, and has edited and co-edited three others including Mountain Papuans and the volumes Emplaced Myth and Mining and Indigenous Lifeworlds in Australia and Papua New Guinea, both with Alan Rumsey. He is the co-editor with Katie Glaskin of Customary Land Tenure and Registration in Australia and Papua New Guinea: Anthropological Perspectives (ANU E Press, 2007).

Songs of the Empty Place »

The Memorial Poetry of the Foi of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea

Authored by: James Weiner, Don Niles
For 31 months between 1979 and 1995, James F. Weiner conducted anthropological research amongst the Foi people in Southern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. This book contains the transcriptions, translations, and descriptions of the songs he recorded. The texts of women’s sago songs (obedobora), men’s ceremonial songs (sorohabora), and women’s sorohabora are included. Men turn the prosaic content of womenís sago songs into their own sorohabora songs, which are performed the night following large-scale inter-community pig kills, called dawa. While women sing sago songs by themselves, men sing their ceremonial songs in groups of paired men. Women also have their own ceremonial versions of such songs. The songs are memorial in intent; they are designed to commemorate the lives of men who are no longer living. Most commonly they do so by naming the places the deceased inhabited during his lifetime. These song texts and translations are introduced by Weiner. Ethnomusicologist Don Niles then brings together information about each type of song and considers these Foi genres in relation to those of neighbouring groups, highlighting aspects of regional performance styles. Consideration is also given to the poetic devices used in Papua New Guinea songs. Eighteen recordings illustrating the Foi genres discussed in this book are available for download. It remains uncertain how such songs may be affected by the major oil extraction project that has been undertaken in the region for more than two decades. This book will interest students of anthropology, ethnomusicology, linguistics, verbal art, aesthetics, and cultural heritage.

Customary Land Tenure & Registration in Australia and Papua New Guinea »

Anthropological Perspectives

Edited by: James Weiner, Katie Glaskin
The main theme of this volume is a discussion of the ways in which legal mechanisms, such as the Land Groups Incorporation Act (1974) in PNG, and the Native Title Act (1993) in Australia, do not, as they purport, serve merely to identify and register already-existing customary indigenous landowning groups in these countries. Because the legislation is an integral part of the way in which indigenous people are defined and managed in relation to the State, it serves to elicit particular responses in landowner organisation and self-identification on the part of indigenous people. These pieces of legislation actively contour the progressive evolution of landowner social, territorial and political organisation at all levels in these nation states. The contributors to this volume provide in-depth anthropological case studies of social structural and cultural transformations engendered by the confrontation between states, developers and indigenous communities over rights to customarily owned land.