An important primary source on the history of Papua and New Guinea is now online

I was surprised and pleased today to discover that a new title has been added to the already impressive collection of digitized Australian newspapers on Trove. Papuan Times, a self-described “paper for Papuans” that was produced by graduates of the school at Kwato mission in Papua from 1948 to about 1957. Issues from 1951 to […]

Harvests, Feasts, and Graves: Postcultural Consciousness in Contemporary Papua New Guinea

Cornell University Press

Harvests, Feasts, and Graves is an ethnographic investigation of how people in one Papua New Guinea society, called Auhelawa, question the meaning of social forms, and through this questioning seek paths to establish a new sense of their collective self. You can order a paperback or hardback copy now at Cornell University Press’s web site. […]

Kinship with God: Indigenous Christianity in an Amazonian World (Review)

Marginalia: A Los Angeles Review of Books Channel

In her latest book, Praying and Preying, cultural anthropologist Aparecida Vilaça examines how the Wari’, an indigenous society of Amazonia, became Evangelical Christians, and what they discovered about Christianity that Western missionaries did not know. For many years, Vilaça has conducted ethnographic research among Wari’, whose villages lie in reservations in the Pacaás Novos river […]

Fieldwork photos from Normanby Island, eleven years later

Opa Haimanu, a member and lay preacher in the Sowala United Church, leaves the church building after the Sunday tapwalolo (worship) service on November 12, 2006. My first trip to Papua New Guinea was in 2004. On that trip, I ended up in Kurada on Normanby Island in Milne Bay Province and stayed for seven […]

“Tapwaroro is true”: Indigenous voice and the heteroglossia of Methodist missionary translation in British New Guinea

Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 26(3): 259-277

In the semiotic ideology of many Christian discursive practices, it is assumed that any language can convey the same message of salvation, and any person is capable of true belief, no matter how it is expressed. Evangelism, especially by Western missions, thus centers on translating Christian texts into vernacular languages. This article considers these understandings […]

A society divided: Death, personhood, and Christianity in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 5(1): 317-337

Christianity invites one to consider it as an antisocial and disembedding force, in particular as hostile to tradition and hostile to collective modes of life. Colonial-era evangelists to Papua New Guinea (PNG) called on people to break traditional rules and, in their words, come out of the darkness. It has thus been productive to examine […]

Haus Man, Haus Krai: The Politics of Cosmology in Papua New Guinea

The campaign against sorcery in PNG continues For now nearly two years, groups in Papua New Guinea (PNG) and abroad have been campaigning to end the killing and torture of women accused of sorcery. Recently, grassroots organizations in provincial centres have taken up the cause in earnest, and brought renewed international attention to the matter. […]

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo (Review)

Comparative Studies in Society and History 55(3): 756-757

Liana Chua, The Christianity of Culture: Conversion, Ethnic Citizenship, and the Matter of Religion in Malaysian Borneo. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012. Liana Chua’s ethnography attempts to answer the question why people who call themselves Christians would maintain continuity with a religion that they themselves identify as a traditional relic. The people she describes are […]

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania (Review)

The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(3): 357-359

Matt Tomlinson and Debra McDougall (eds.), Christian Politics in Oceania, New York and Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2013. In his 1843 book review, ‘On The Jewish Question’, Marx argues that while the liberal state claims to liberate people from religious constraints by giving them rights as citizens, it in fact replaces one constraint with another by […]

Liberation and development in Glebe at Tranby College

In Glebe, the leafy suburb of Sydney, one can find a connection between the Australian labor movement, Anglo-Catholic Anglicanism, and the Territory of Papua at Tranby Aboriginal Co-operative College. Alf Clint was a labor activist who was drawn to the Christian socialism of the Anglo-Catholic community based at Christ Church St Laurence in Sydney. He […]

Florence Young: Missionary to Melanesians in Queensland of the 1880s

Florence S. H. Young was a mostly self-trained Christian missionary who preached to and taught Melanesian migrant workers in Queensland in the 1880s and 1890s. In the golden age of European Christian missions, she proposed an alternative to the mainstream model of how Europeans should preach gospel to indigneous peoples, and provoked a minor controversy […]

Witches’ Wealth: Witchraft, Confession and Christian Personhood in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 16: 726-742

The argument that contemporary examples of witchcraft belief demonstrate an alternative form of modern subjectivity has been doubted by many anthropologists, who claim that so-called modern witchcraft is often only a reflection of traditional cultural epistemologies. In Auhelawa (Milne Bay province, Papua New Guinea), new beliefs about witchcraft suggest that the epistemic basis for knowledge […]

One Mind: Enacting the Christian Congregation in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

The Australian Journal of Anthropology 24(1): 30-47

This article examines the relationship between Christian worship and the production of religious identity among Auhelawa speakers of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea. Auhelawa people live in a society in which a locally developed form of Christianity has emerged from a long engagement with missionaries. In the colonial era, missionaries spoke in terms of light […]