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 […]

Paternalism on patrol: An officer’s report on health promotion in colonial Papua

As part of my research on cultural changes in Auhelawa, a society on the south coast of Normanby Island, Milne Bay Province, Papua New Guinea (PNG), I’ve read through many of the reports written by the young Australian men who worked as officers of the colonial government. You can tell as you read them how […]

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

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) […]

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 […]

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

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. […]