Nils Bubandt, The Empty Seashell: Witchcraft and Doubt on an Indonesian Island (Review)

…Bubandt’s book is … a highly original contribution to debates around the ontological turn. The witch does not only raise a problem of knowledge and belief, but of what we mean by being, since it cannot itself be. It remains invisible and is capable of appearing in many different forms. The witch cannot be known, […]

Pei bilong sosopen: An article from Lae Garamut, 1948

Another of the postwar education department newsletters in the Territory of Papua and New Guinea was Lae Garamut. It published mainly announcements and instructions from local colonial officials in Pidgin, but like Rabaul News and others, aspired to be a newspaper for indigenous people, and invited readers to submit their own articles.  In 1948, the […]

Debra McDougall, Engaging with Strangers: Love and Violence in Rural Solomon Islands (Review)

When a boat left the shores of Australia to return hundreds of Melanesian laborers to their homes in the South Sea Islands, deportees were heard to shout from the deck ‘Good-bye Queensland, good-bye white Australia, good-bye Christians’ (‘The deportation of Kanakas’, Wagga Wagga Express, 29 August 1907, p. 2). It is hard to say whether […]

Birds Will Cover the Sky: Humiliation and Meaning in Two Historical Narratives from Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

This article examines how the people of Auhelawa, a society on the south coast of Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea, make use of two historical figures—one a warrior, the other a police officer—to represent the nature of social transformation. In different ways, the stories of these heroes produce a dichotomous temporality of a time of […]

Jeffrey Sissons, The Polynesian Iconoclasm: Religious Revolution and the Seasonality of Power (Review)

Today, one is asked to contemplate the end of the world on a regular basis. This seems to be an era of iconoclasm and iconoclasts in both the senses of image-breakers and radicals. It brings latter-day moderns in touch with a moment in Polynesian history when sacred chiefs encountered Christian missionaries. In this book, Jeffrey […]

A Grandparent Ghost Story from Lakalai, Papua New Guinea

I am doing research on a story about grandparents and ancestors from Lakalai (West New Britain, PNG). I first read about it in a paper by the anthropologist C. A. Valentine (1965). In Valentine’s telling, there was an elderly Lakalai woman who died. After her death, her spirit continued to watch over her living grandchild. […]

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 […]