The tribe next door: The New Guinea Highlands in a postwar Papuan mission newspaper

The Australian Journal of Anthropology 30(1)

Western ideologies of imperialism conceptualise time as heterogeneous in that they assume that colonised lands are outside of historical time. In this respect, the discursive construction of an empty frontier has been crucial to colonial dispossession. Yet colonial discourses become dominant through their circulation, and so the savage spaces they imagine take on a life […]

Sorcery and stereotypes in Guardian reporting on Papua New Guinea

On January 4, the Guardian published an article by Australian journalist Helen Davidson on assaults in Togoba, Papua New Guinea against people accused of using sorcery to kill a man who died of malaria. She followed this up on January 10 with another report on an attack on the chief justice of PNG and his […]

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. […]

Looking up from Pwapwata, Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea

A view of Menumenu mountain and points east from Pwapwata, in Kurada, Normanby Island (Milne Bay Province), Papua New Guinea Between November 14 and 16, 2006, I took some of my last remaining rolls of film and my Pentax K1000 camera to capture the landscapes of Auhelawa on Normanby Island. One of the places I […]

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 […]

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 […]

Yumi olsem wantok tasol: An article from Rabaul News, 1948

Rabaul News was a Pidgin-language newsletter published with support from the Department of Education in the Territory of Papua-New Guinea in the late 1940s and 1950s. Like many such papers at the time, it aspired to bring a reliable news source to the indigenous residents of the Territory, encourage adult education, and explain (or justify) […]

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. […]

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. […]

Notes on the Sociology of Wantoks in Papua New Guinea

Anthropological Forum 25(1): 3-20

This paper was selected for the 2015 article prize of the Australian Anthropological Society. It is available as an Open Access article from Anthropological Forum. Abstract: In Melanesian pidgin languages, wantok means someone with a similar origin as oneself, and connotes a familiarity and mutual solidarity. Wantok has also become a watchword of politics and […]

Let’s talk kula

I am interested in finding sources on the phenomenon of “kula talk” (Weiner 1992: 141) or “kula speech” (Munn 1992: 109). Many Kula researchers, including Damon, Weiner and Munn, mention a distinct genre of speech and discourse about the roads of kula valuables. The phenomenon is interesting because, as you all know, Malinowski argued that […]

Cafe New Guinea documents PNG village foodways

I’m looking forward to more mouthwatering food photography from Cafe New Guinea on Facebook, and their forthcoming TV show. The creators recently posted a photoset from Sibonai, Normanby, including a beautiful, shimmering, savory pot of mona (taro pudding) presented with hibiscus blossoms. Facebook commentators from across PNG and abroad are comparing notes on names for […]

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 […]

The Border in the Eye of the Beholder: Interculturalism in the Pacific (Review)

Anthropological Quarterly 85(4): 1257-1267

For more than a generation, anthropology has struggled with where to locate its object in space and time. On the one hand, ethnography has become unabashedly global and historical in scope; yet, on the other, anthropologists have never been content to set local cases against a larger background without also questioning how these levels and […]

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 […]

Finding Money: Business and Charity in Auhelawa, Papua New Guinea

Ethnos 75 (4): 447-470

There is a growing consensus that money and the market principle have not led to a great transformation into modernity. Rather, market exchange is everywhere socially embedded. But what does this embedding consist of, structural limits, tactics of resistance, or moral boundaries? Auhelawa (Normanby Island, Papua New Guinea) have incorporated money into their local economy […]

Where else are there wantoks?

Throughout PNG people talk about wantoks, people who have a relationship based on affinity of origin or other shared trait. Urban places are marked by wantok groups and wantok networks. Also people invoke a ‘wantok system’ as a model for how institutions function (or don’t as the case may be). Do other places have wantoks […]

Cultivation of pineapple in PNG

This is the time of year when people eat pineapples on Normanby Island, PNG. Many people plant large gardens of pineapples and offer them as Christmas gifts. Few are sold in markets. I’m wondering how common this is. Across PNG, who plants pineapples, in what ways and one what kind of scale. Is it always […]

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 […]