Search titles

Displaying results 1 to 10 of 81.

Uneven Connections »

A Partial History of the Mobile Phone in Papua New Guinea

Authored by: Robert J. Foster
Publication date: 2024
In the first years of the 21st century, economic liberalisation began to transform telecommunications services throughout the Pacific Islands. Government regulators, corporate executives and everyday consumers hopefully imagined that opening mobile phone markets to competition would result in greater access, lower costs and accelerated development. Uneven Connections examines the ways in which liberalisation took hold in Papua New Guinea (PNG) when a unit of the Caribbean-based mobile network operator Digicel Group Ltd. seized the opportunity to compete with the state-sponsored incumbent. The book highlights how mobile phones entered the lives of urban and rural Papua New Guineans after Digicel’s arrival in 2007. In so doing, it describes a moral economy in which companies, consumers and state agents continually negotiate who owes what to whom. In what ways have these various actors invented and negotiated new forms of both freedom and constraint? Uneven Connections advances understanding of how a so-called digital revolution in PNG unfolded, resulting in outcomes that often confounded the expectations of policy makers and ordinary citizens alike. It assesses the extent to which some of the promises of this revolution have been redeemed and identifies the challenges faced by companies, consumers and state agents in establishing and experiencing novel forms of uneven connectivity. The book provides a short and selective history of mobile phones in PNG, ending with the sale of Digicel’s Pacific operations to the Australian company Telstra in 2022.

Coming soon

Notify me

Return to Volcano Town »

Reassessing the 1937–1943 Volcanic Eruptions at Rabaul

Publication date: October 2023
Wally Johnson and Neville Threlfall re-examine the explosive volcanic eruptions that in 1937–43 killed more than 500 people in the Rabaul area of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. They reassess this disaster in light of the prodigious amount of new scientific and disaster-management work that has been undertaken there since about 1971, when strong tectonic earthquakes shook the area. Comparisons are made in particular with volcanic eruptions in 1994–2014, when half of Rabaul town was destroyed and then abandoned. A striking feature of historical eruptive periods at Rabaul is the near‑simultaneous activity at Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes, on either side of Rabaul Harbour. Such rare ‘twin’ eruptions are interpreted to be the result of a common magma reservoir beneath the harbour. This interpretation has implications for ongoing hazard and risk assessments and for volcano monitoring in the area.

Grassroots Law in Papua New Guinea »

Edited by: Melissa Demian
Publication date: 2023
The introduction of village courts in Papua New Guinea in 1975 was an ambitious experiment in providing semi-formal legal access to the country’s overwhelmingly rural population. Nearly 50 years later, the enthusiastic adoption of these courts has had a number of ramifications, some of them unanticipated. Arguably, the village courts have developed and are working exactly as they were supposed to do, adapted by local communities to modes and styles consistent with their own dispute management sensibilities. But with little in the way of state oversight or support, most village courts have become, of necessity, nearly autonomous. Village courts have also become the blueprint for other modes of dispute management. They overlap with other sources of authority, so the line between what does and does not constitute a ‘court’ is now indistinct in many parts of the country. Rather than casting this issue as a problem for legal development, the contributors to Grassroots Law in Papua New Guinea ask how, under conditions of state withdrawal, people seek to retain an understanding of law that holds out some promise of either keeping the attention of the state or reproducing the state’s authority.

Coming soon

Notify me

Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation »

Journeys in Bougainville

Authored by: Gordon Peake
Publication date: December 2022
In 2016, Gordon Peake answers a job advertisement for a role with the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands on the eastern fringe of Papua New Guinea looking to strike out as a country of its own. In his day job he sees at first hand the challenges of trying to stand up new government systems. Away from the office he travels with former rebels, follows an anthropologist’s ghost and visits landmarks from the region’s conflict. In 2019, he witnesses joy and euphoria as the people of Bougainville vote in a referendum on their future. Out of these encounters emerges an unforgettable portrait of this potential nation-in-waiting. Blending narrative history, travelogue and personal reminiscences, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is an engaging memoir as well as an insightful meditation on the realities of nation-making and international development. ‘Heartfelt and honest. This book is an insightful read and a valuable addition to scholarship on Bougainville’s journey to peace.’ — Joseph Nobetau, former Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government ‘An excellent piece of engaged travel writing. With first-hand observation and curiosity, Gordon has produced a deeply informed, compelling and evocative account of war, survival and nation-building in what may become the world’s newest country.’ — Tom Bamforth, author of The Rising Tide: Among the Islands and Atolls of the Pacific Ocean Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is also available as an audiobook.

Child-directed Speech in Qaqet »

A Language of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Authored by: Henrike Frye
Publication date: August 2022
Qaqet is a non-Austronesian language, spoken by about 15,000 people in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. In the remote inland, children acquire Qaqet as their first language. Much of what we know about child‑directed speech (CDS) stems from children living in middle‑class, urban, industrialised contexts. This book combines evidence from different methods, showing that the features typical for speech to children in such contexts are also found in Qaqet CDS. Preliminary insights from naturalistic audio recordings suggest that Qaqet children are infrequently addressed directly. In interviews, Qaqet caregivers express the view that children ‘pick up’ the language on their own. Still, they have clear ideas about how to talk to children in a way that makes it easier for them to understand what is said. In order to compare adult- and child-directed speech in Qaqet, 20 retellings of a film have been analysed, half of them told to adults and half to children. The data show that talk directed to children differs from talk directed to adults for several features, among them utterance type, mean length of utterance, amount of hesitations and intonation. Despite this clear tendency, there seems to be a cut-off point of around 40 months of age for several of those features from which the talk directed to children becomes more like the talk directed to adults.

State and Society in Papua New Guinea, 2001–2021 »

Authored by: R.J. May
Publication date: August 2022
In a previous volume, State and Society in Papua New Guinea: The First Twenty-Five Years (2001, reprinted by ANU E Press in 2004), a collection of papers by the author published between 1971 and 2001 was put together to mark Papua New Guinea’s first 25 years as an independent state. This volume presents a collection of papers written between 2001 and 2021, which update the story of political and social development in Papua New Guinea in the first two decades of the twenty-first century. The chapters cover a range of topics, from an evaluation of proposals for political reform in the early 2000s, a review of the discussion of ‘failing states’ in the island Pacific and the shift to limited preferential voting in 2007, to a detailed account of political developments from the move against Sir Michael Somare in 2011 to the election of Prime Minister Marape and his performance to 2022. There are also chapters on language policy, external and internal security, religious fundamentalism and national identity, and the sustainability of economic growth.

Capital and Inequality in Rural Papua New Guinea »

Publication date: July 2022
That large-scale capital drives inequality in states like Papua New Guinea is clear enough; how it does so is less clear. This edited collection presents studies of the local contexts of capital-intensive projects in the mining, oil and gas, and agro-industry sectors in rural and semi-rural parts of Papua New Guinea; it asks what is involved when large-scale capital and its agents begin to become significant nodes in hitherto more local social networks. Its contributors describe the processes initiated by the (planned) presence of extractive industries that tend to reinforce already existing inequalities, or to create and socially entrench novel inequalities. The studies largely focus on the beginnings of such transformations, when hopes for social improvement are highest and economic inequalities still incipient. They show how those hopes, and the encompassing socio-political transformations characteristic of this phase, act to produce far-reaching impacts on ways of life, setting precedents for and embedding the social distribution of gains and losses. The chapters address a range of settings: the PNG Liquid Natural Gas pipeline; newly established eucalyptus and oil palm plantations; a planned copper-gold mine; and one in which rumours of development diffuse through a rural social network as yet unaffected by any actual or planned capital investments. The analyses all demonstrate that questions around land, leadership and information are central to the current and future social profile of local inequality in all its facets.

Wives and Wanderers in a New Guinea Highlands Society »

Women’s lives in the Wahgi Valley

Authored by: Marie Olive Reay
Publication date: January 2022
Wives and Wanderers in a New Guinea Highlands Society brings to the reader anthropologist Marie Reay’s field research from the 1950s and 1960s on women’s lives in the Wahgi Valley, Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Dramatically written, each chapter adds to the main story that Reay wanted to tell, contrasting young girls’ freedom to court and choose partners, with the constraints (and violence) they were to experience as married women. This volume provides readable ethnographic material for undergraduate courses, in whole or in part. It will be of interest to students and scholars of gender relations, anthropology and feminism, Melanesia and the Pacific. The material in this book, which Reay had written by 1965 but never published, remains startlingly contemporary and relevant. Marie Olive Reay was a social anthropologist who did research in Australian Indigenous communities and in the Wahgi Valley in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Employed at The Australian National University from 1959 to 1988 when she retired, Reay passed away in 2004. In 2011 this manuscript was found in her personal papers, reconstructed and edited by Francesca Merlan, augmented here by an additional introduction by eminent anthropologist of the Highlands, and of gender, Marilyn Strathern. Had this manuscript appeared when Reay apparently completed it in its present form – around 1965 – it would have been the first published ethnography of women’s lives in the Central Highlands of Papua New Guinea. Its retrieval from Reay’s papers, and availability now, adds a new dimension to works on gender relations in Melanesian societies, and to the history of Australian and Pacific anthropology.

Wampar–English Dictionary »

With an English–Wampar finder list

Publication date: December 2021
This ethnographic dictionary is the result of Hans Fischer’s long-term fieldwork among the Wampar, who occupy the middle Markham Valley in Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG). Their language, Dzob Wampar, belongs to the Markham family of the Austronesian languages. Today most Wampar speak not only Wampar but also PNG’s lingua franca, Tok Pisin. Six decades of Wampar research has documented the extent and speed of change in the region. Today, mining, migration and the commodification of land are accelerating the pace of change in Wampar communities, resulting in great individual differences in knowledge of the vernacular. This dictionary covers largely forgotten Wampar expressions as well as loanwords from German and Jabêm that have become part of everyday language. Most entries contain example sentences from original Wampar texts. The dictionary is complemented by an overview of ethnographic research among Wampar, a sketch of Wampar grammar, a bibliography and an English-to-Wampar finder list.

The Absent Presence of the State in Large-Scale Resource Extraction Projects »

Publication date: August 2021
Standing on the broken ground of resource extraction settings, the state is sometimes like a chimera: its appearance and intentions are misleading and, for some actors, it is unknowable and incomprehensible. It may be easily mistaken for someone or something else, like a mining company, for example. With rich ethnographic material, this volume tackles critical questions about the nature of contemporary states, studied from the perspective of resource extraction projects in Papua New Guinea, Australia and beyond. It brings together a sustained focus on the unstable and often dialectical relationship between the presence and the absence of the state in the context of resource extraction. Across the chapters, contributors discuss cases of proposed mining ventures, existing large-scale mining operations and the extraction of natural gas. Together, they illustrate how the concept of absent presence can be brought to life and how it can enhance our understanding of the state as well as relations and processes forming in extractive contexts, thus providing a novel contribution to the anthropology of the state and the anthropology of extraction. ‘The Absent Presence fills a major gap in our knowledge about the relationship between states and companies – at a time when resource extraction seems to be more contested than ever. Bainton and Skrzypek have curated an incredibly impressive volume that should be read by all those interested in exploring corporate and state power, and the ever-present impacts of extraction. A highly recommended read.’ — Professor Deanna Kemp, Director of the Centre for Social Responsibility in Mining, The University of Queensland ‘Countless books have been written on the sovereign state and how it imposes a particular kind of order on economic and social interactions. What is original and compelling about this collection is the portrait of how two very different states converge when it comes to “extractive ventures”. From the presumption of exclusive sovereignty over mineral resources, to the bargains that are struck with major (often global) corporations, and the relative indifference to environmental impacts, there is a remarkable consistency in the patterns that are referred to as “state effects”. These effects are brought from the background to the foreground in this book through the blending of creative and critical thinking with detailed empirical research.’ — Tim Dunne, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of International Relations, The University of Queensland ‘This brilliant and intriguing title provides a timely contribution to understanding the actual functions and strategies of state (and state-like) institutions in resource arenas. The dialectics of presence-absence and its refractions at different levels and scales of government allow the authors to go beyond stereotypes about the (strong, weak, failed or corrupt) state, highlighting more commonalities than expected between Papua New Guinea and Australia, and even New Caledonia.’ — Dr Pierre-Yves Le Meur, Anthropologist, Senior Researcher, French National Research Institute for Sustainable Development, Joint Research Unit SENS (Knowledge Environment Society)