Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Papers that engage with Melanesia at the 2008 AAA

The following is a list of 30 papers and 3 panels (with two or more papers) that deal with Melanesia in addition to the MIG sponsored session Cultures of Christian Conversion (co-sponsored by the AAA Executive Committee) organized and chaired by John Barker will be taking place on Sunday, November 23rd from 8am to 11.45am (see the previous blog post). These papers address topics as diverse as language loss in Santa Cruz (Emerine), social and digital ontologies at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (Geismar), HIV/AIDS in PNG (Cox), environmental crisis in the Murik Lake region (Lipset) and the novel Gwe (Perey). The three panels are Making Modernities in Youth Cultures (Brison), Decline: Deterioration amid expectations of progress (Jacka & Knauft) and Marine protected areas: Emerging issues in collaboration, inclusion, and engagement in marine resource governance (Carothers & Levine). The diversity of topics is a testiment to the membership.

I have gleaned this list from the AAA data base using various keywords and therefore may have missed things. If there are more then one paper in a session I have listed the abstract of the session. Please feel free to let me know if I missed anything.


Feasts of Men or Kana Tamata: Interdisciplinary Data on Cannibalism in Fiji

Sharyn Jones
Session Title: Using the Past to Understand the Future: Bioarchaeology and Forensics
Session Time: 12:00 PM - 01:45 PM

Abstract: In this presentation we describe archaeological, ethnographic, isotopic, and human skeletal evidence for cannibalism in Fiji. We review and summarize data from several locations and archaeological sites, describing four lines evidence from which to examine this practice: 1) frequency data for human bones recovered from middens and evidence of conflagration; 2) isotopic signatures for reconstructing human diet; 3) worked human bones, and other tools; and, 4) human bones examined via macroscopic and/or histologic methods. In particular, attention is paid to sharp force toolmark locations and the types of implements used in the creation of the incised marks on bone. Finally, we explore how anthropologists may classify this practice as dietary or ritual cannibalism.

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Seva, Bhakti, and the Politics of Pain: A Rhetoric of National Belonging among Hindus in Fiji

Susanna Trnka
Session Title: Emblematic Religious Politics
Session Time: 04:00 PM - 05:45 PM

Abstract: Much of Western scholarship on pain has highlighted the alienating and isolating qualities of physical pain, in particular pain's ability to force the social remove of the sufferer from society (cf. Arendt 1958; Scarry 1985), in the process overshadowing cases where physical pain draws individuals together, in some instances, becoming the basis for religious, ethnic, and political identity. This paper considers the place of pain and physical suffering from the latter perspective, examining how physical pain is perceived as both an integral element of religious identity and a platform for assertions of political rights among Indo-Fijian Hindus, Fiji's second largest religious and ethnic group. Specifically, I argue that contemporary Indo-Fijians, the vast majority of whom identify as Sanatan Hindus, emphasize the pain, suffering, and sacrifices of physical labor integral to their historical legacy as indentured laborers in order to highlight their contributions to the Fijian nation. Articulated through the religious idioms of seva and bhakti, as popularized by sanatan missionaries in Fiji in the 1930s, pain, and in particular pain linked to physical labor, can be conceptualized in contemporary discourse as a marker of Indo-Fijians' religious and ethnic identity. As part of a rhetoric of national belonging, pain further comes to carry Indo-Fijian claims to political rights. Rather than forcing an individual's alienation from his or her social group, physical pain in this context acts as an index of labor, a marker of sacrifice and devotion, and a bid for national belonging on the part of a marginalized ethnic-religious group.

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Technologies and Topologies of Nationalism in West Papua

Eben Kirksey
Session Title: Including Nationalist-Minorites (Others) in Exclusive Nationalist-Discourse: some new theoretical considerations for nationalism and anthropology
Session Time: 06:00 PM - 07:45 PM

Abstract: The role of print media has been well documented in the generation of national imagined communities. This technology generates a sort of homogeneity—a literate public united by a standardized language—that many scholars regard as an essential feature of true nationalist movements. The very idea of nationalism has become a site of negotiation and translation as we enter the early 21st century. In West Papua, the half of New Guinea under Indonesian administration, surprising political results are being achieved by a nationalist movement without literacy and other sorts of cultural homogeneity. Here over 270 distinct indigenous groups have dreams of forming a new united nation. The Single Side Band radio, a communications technology that does not depend on literacy, actively generates cultural and linguistic heterogeneity in West Papua even it is used to popularize dreams of national independence from Indonesia. Multiple partially-overlapping transportation infrastructures also help channel the flow of freedom dreams through West Papua. In the face of failing national projects throughout the world—in the face of neo-imperial schemes and postcolonial suffering in many corners of the globe—potentially sympathetic policy makers are grappling with very serious questions when confronted with demands for recognition from emergent nations. New independence movements must convince the world that there is substance to their claims. Annemarie Mol and John Law have illustrated how a single phenomena can inhabit network, regional, and “fluid” topologies. Their work offers a way of thinking about the forces that generate national integration amidst cultural and linguistic heterogeneity. Departing from their work, I suggest that the nation of West Papua is a networked place, a region, and fluid space.

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Making Modernities in Youth Cultures
Session Time: 06:00 PM - 09:45 PM
Organizer: Karen Brison
Chair: Karen Brison

Abstract: This session explores the way children and youth construct identities in dialog with global ideologies conveyed through mass media, Pentecostal churches, schools, migration of populations, and other global “scapes.” In a now classic work, Appadurai (1996) argued that global modernity involves a rupture from past certainties and creates increased scope for imagining new kinds of identities in dialogue with global ideologies. “Modernity” itself is an imagined state involving increased individual autonomy, universalism, and identity defined through consumption of “modern” goods and behaviors. More recent works have suggested even greater fluidity, with “identities” and ”modernities,” situationally defined and varying across context. Children and adolescents are often in the forefront of the process of shaping “modernities” because: i) they attend schools that follow international philosophies and institutional patterns and promote “modern” citizenship as locally defined (e.g. Stambach 2000); ii) their lives are saturated by mass media prompting identification with international, gendered, youth communities; and iii) they are often targeted by institutions like Pentecostal churches which promote an ideology of individual achievement and self-mastery as well as encouraging people to imagine themselves as parts of international communities. The papers in this session examine children and adolescents as active agents who take in these various messages within particular local conditions and use them to make sense of their own lives. In the process, they build new kinds of identities and modernities, imagining themselves as embedded in new kinds of extra-local communities such as nations, international religious communities, and international gendered communities such as athletes, rock stars and beauty queens. Examining these emergent identities gives new insight into the fluid, multivalent and context bound nature of modernities and identities, as well as to the agency of children and youth. The papers explore youth constructions of identity and modernity in Asia (Grimes-MacLellan, Jung, Davis, and Dixon), the Pacific (Brison, Dewey, Good, Vaughan), Latin America (Campoamar, Anderson-Fye), Africa (Dahl, Yamakawa), and among immigrant adolescents in the US (Braga, Esser). Dewey, Campoamar, Davis, Dahl, Vaughan, and Grimes-MacLellan look at the way that children reinterpret ideas about citizenship and nation, received from government, schools and NGOs, which may, in turn, conflict with messages received in other contexts. Dahl argues that international NGOs promote “modern” identities among AIDS orphans that conflict with the gerontocratic and family structured Botswana culture. Grimes-McClellan analyzes the way that Japanese teenagers, confronted with contradictory local and international discourses of optimism and pessimism create novel ways of viewing self and economic trajectory. Anderson-Fye, Esser, and Braga examine the experience of immigrant adolescents whose distinctive ethnic and gendered identities are formed in dialog with American constructions of “culture.” While Good examines the impact of international massmedia on Tongan ideas about romance. Many of the papers focus on schoolchildren who form novel conceptions of self and ethnicity blending their experiences in school, home and church. Brison, for instance, argues that kindergarten children in ethnically plural Fiji are creating an ethnically neutral, class-based, identity that mystifies and dismays adults.

I’m just a regular white girl’: Emerging Middle Class Identities in Fijian Kindergartens
Karen Brison

Abstract: This paper explores the emergence of a new, ethnically neutral, middle class identity among Fijian kindergarten children, which mystified and dismayed parents and teachers. A growing number of middle class children were only passively bilingual in their ethnic languages, despite their parents’ desires, and referred to themselves as “Europeans” or “white kids,” regardless of skin color or ethnic background. Children received contradictory messages about modernity and ethnic traditions from teachers and parents. Most adults voiced deep ethnic prejudices and almost all families participated in extended family networks and numerous cultural rituals. Local parenting and teaching were also molded by traditional gerontocratic local values. Yet many middle class families belonged to Pentecostal churches that encouraged people to see themselves as part of a global “kingdom culture,” and cautioned about “anti-modern” communal practices hampered individual spiritual and economic development. In addition, many middle class children attended “multiracial” schools where the medium of communication was English and teachers thought of themselves as conveying “modern” values, although they frequently drew on local values and discussed ethnic differences in essentialist terms. I argue that the “white kid” category indicates the growing importance of class-based cultures in Fiji and reflects the experiential world of urban children. I also suggest that boys situated themselves in an international community of macho young men while girls imagined themselves to be part of global religious communities.

“We Fijian Boys Like to Play with Guns”: Negotiating Preschool Under Military Rule in Fiji
Susan Dewey

Abstract: Colonial-era schools in Fiji were segregated as part of a divide-and-rule strategy that sought to separate indigenous Fijians from South Asian (Indo-Fijian) contract laborers; this pattern largely continued after independence as part of a stress on mother-tongue education that functioned to divide many members of the two major ethnic groups into different schools. Fiji has experienced four coups since 1987, most recently in December 2006, all of which were justified at least in part by the political manipulation of public perceptions on cultural and economic differences between indigenous Fijians and Indo-Fijians. The 2006 coup was staged on the premise that its interim military government would, as its propaganda often announces, “move the nation forward to build a better Fiji for all”, although rather than increased ethnic harmony the results were rising inflation, suspension of foreign aid and increased economic difficulties for most families. As the title of this paper (drawn from a statement made by a four-year-old) suggests, preschoolers in Fiji make assessments of cultural and ethnic differences that combine with experiences in the home and other settings to help construct their views of children and adults from other ethnic groups. This paper follows a group of four year olds nine months after the 2006 coup as they prepare for their preschool’s end-of-year “cultural pageant” that sought to showcase the cultural uniqueness of each group yet also proved a site for numerous contestatations by children of adult perceptions regarding ethnicity.

Kepping the culture to keeps us sane
Jacquelyn Lewis-Harris

Abstract: Researchers have maintained that identity construction among Pacific Island groups is a subtle, ever-evolving self-defining situation (Linnekin and Poyer 1990; Mallon 1997; Morton 1998), this is observably apparent in the lives of children of Papua New Guinea immigrants in Australia. Many have embraced their parent’s indigenous cultures as a process of developing their identities within extra-local communities and in reaction to external dominant culture influences. A parallel is to be found among Hawaiian-descendent and Pacific Island children in isolated communities on the island of Oahu. School curriculum, sports, peer group pressure and the influences of MTV, BET and VHI, other popular mass media contribute to the formation of new modernities, in an unanticipated way. Participation in the arts, culturally sensitive curriculum and other related activities appear to provide students an alternative venue through which to sustain their identity development (Gibson and Ogbu 1991, Jones, Pang Rodriguez 2004, Howard and Scott 2006). This paper will compare student internalization of external influences in forming new senses of cultural identity and modernities under sometimes-hostile circumstances. It will also discuss the resultant cultural forms that lead to a contemporary interpretation of older cultural norms and values.

Picturing futures: Participation, Photovoice and young people's health in Papua New Guinea
Cathy Vaughan

Abstract: Representations of Highlands youth – including in the national media and international development discourse – tend to be constraining in the extreme. Young people are associated with violence and guns, unemployment and aimlessness, and negative health outcomes including HIV infection. However, young Papua New Guineans are competent social actors negotiating the rapid change associated with colliding life worlds. Taking young Papua New Guineans’ views seriously is a prerequisite to outsiders, working in fields such as community development or HIV prevention, being in a position to enter into any kind of dialogue with them about health. This paper will present preliminary findings from qualitative research undertaken with three youth groups in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea between November 2006 and September 2007. I will outline the research process (Photovoice) which worked to create a space where young people’s views on health could be acknowledged and given recognition, and to redefine the vague notion of “empowerment” in terms of identity change – from restricted and limiting identities to more open and enabling ones – through participation. I will show how participation in a research process fostering self reflection and self representation may influence young people’s perceptions and experiences of possible futures in a rapidly changing environment, and how this relates to health related behaviour and decision making in settings of limited resources. Implications for youth focused health and development programs in Papua New Guinea will be discussed.

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Indigenous ecological knowledge as situated practice: Understanding fishers’ knowledge in the Western Solomon Islands.
Matthew Lauer
Session Title: Dynamics of Power: Indigenous Self-Governance, Ecological Knowledge, and Natural Resource Management
Session Time: 08:00 PM - 09:45 PM

Abstract: Interest in indigenous knowledge has grown dramatically in recent years. Researchers and practitioners across many disciplines now recognize that local people’s knowledge, perceptions, and cosmologies are useful and important ingredients for sustainable and socially just development and resource management interventions, or for understanding ecological change. In this talk, I scrutinize current theoretical constructs and epistemological assumptions informing indigenous knowledge studies in the context of an ongoing research and environmental management program among fisherfolk of Roviana Lagoon, Solomon Islands. I detail how Roviana ideas call to question prevailing models of knowledge that emphasize cognitive aspects over other modalities of knowing. From the Roviana point of view, ecological knowledge is not analytically separated from the changing contexts of everyday human activities such as navigating and fishing. Instead, knowledge is immanent in the life of the knower as it unfolds through actual engagement and performance of environmentally situated activities. Inspired by Roviana epistemology, I argue that a practice-oriented approach provides a more sympathetic and informative theoretical framework for understanding local knowledge. It affords critical insights into the nature of knowledge and processes of learning by urging us to consider the dynamic, micro-processes involved in everyday activities. This perspective is shown to be particularly useful for interpreting the results of indigenous knowledge studies in the Solomon Islands that have involved the integration of indigenous knowledge, remote sensing techniques, Geographic Information System (GIS) technologies, and marine science.


Language Endangerment and Shift of Nagu in the Solomon Islands

Rachel Emerine

Session Title: Society of Linguistic Anthropology
Session Time: 08:00 AM - 09:45 AM

Abstract: In the Pacific Islands, many small languages are undocumented and disappearing. On the island of Santa Cruz in the Solomon Islands, the Nagu language is endangered. In 1976, 311 people spoke Nagu, but at the time of the last census in 1999, there were only 206 speakers, a 34% decrease in less than 15 years. The decrease is not the result of death, but of people using a different language. What is the cause of language shift on this small island? Nagu is part of the Reefs-Santa Cruz language family that includes two other languages on Santa Cruz and Aiwoo in the nearby Reefs Islands. In the past 20 years, the Nagu people have intermarried with the Aiwoo. When the Aiwoo and Nagu intermarry, Aiwoo may become the dominant language used in the family, replacing Nagu. My research will examine this occurrence. Throughout the past 30 years, the use of Solomon Islands Pijin has increased. Pijin is used as the lecture language in schools and church. This language may also be dominating domains where Nagu was traditionally used. This is my second avenue of exploration. In summer 2008, I will go to the Solomon Islands for nine weeks. During this time, I will conduct interviews and observe interactions to determine the cause of language shift among Nagu speakers. Through my research, I hope to determine why the shift is occurring, document aspects of the Nagu language, and evaluate if revitalization of the Nagu language is possible.
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Scientific Research and Political Engagement in New Caledonia
Bensa Alban

Session Title: From Reflexivity to Action: Toward a History of Anthropological Engagement
Session Time: 08:00 AM - 11:45 AM

Abstract: The boost that Kanak militants gave to New Caledonia’s decolonization process from 1984 onwards challenged specialists of the archipelago’s social and political life to interpret the period that, even today, is known as “the Events”. This situation convinced me to try to re-evaluate the existing scientific knowledge about Kanak society. The Kanak acutely desired to regain, along with their dignity, a larger measure of autonomy in all domains. This movement questioned ethnology’s capacity to analyze “on the spot” the decisive emergence on the national and international scene of a people that until then had been ignored. However, while expertise characteristically involves the clarification of a political debate by a knowledgeable expert, my engagement went beyond this. The Kanak nationalist movement’s intention to make their objectives both understood and recognized took me across the border between social science and politics. What good are the social sciences if they cannot also put their tools and findings to use in aiding necessary social transformations? It seemed to me that ethnology’s involvement in political debate, far from corrupting or trivializing it, instead – according also to an ethic duty - enriched the discipline by allowing reflection on the transient and circumstantial nature of its proposals. Experts’ arguments are difficult to dissociate from political arguments. Clarifying a situation is never independent from the desire to transform it, and for any problematic situation described it is always possible to point the way towards the solutions it could need.

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The Cultural Biography of Langalanga Landscape
Pei-yi Guo

Session Title: Contact Zones II: Situating Landscapes among Geopolitical Relations, Territorialities and Identities
Session Time: 04:00 PM - 05:45 PM

Abstract: The Langalanga people dwell for generations on artificial or semi-artificial islets along the central-west coast of Malaita Island, Solomon Islands. On the one hand, for various ecological, safety and economic reasons, Langalanga people transform the lagoon landscape into chains of residential islets, especially in the form of people-built islands. In addition to human agents, others creatures (shells, fish, sharks and marine botany) and natural phenomena (earthquake, cyclones) also play important roles in the transformation of Langalanga landscape. On the other hand, the changing landscape—including the constructed and destructed islets, the numeral of shells and fish in the lagoon, and the mythic legends and ancestral histories embedded in places—also shapes how the Langalanga experience the life-world, develop modes of economy, and construct their group identity. This paper explores the interrelationships between landscape and people in Langalanga lagoon, especially in the recent context of tourism and land dispute. In light of Igor Kopytoff and Arjun Appadurai’s work on the ‘social life of things’, I will look into the social life of Langalanga landscape, and examine how landscape moves in and out of commodity phase in the transformation of Langalanga society and culture. I argue that the approach of the cultural biography of landscape could highlight the process of entanglement between people and the natural worlds.

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The Role of Anthropology in Combating the Spread of HIV in Rural Papua New Guinea
Nara Cox

Session Title: Anthropology, Advocacy, Agency, and Identity
Session Time: 04:00 PM - 05:45 PM

Abstract: Engaging the 2008 AAA theme of “Inclusion, Collaboration & Engagement” this poster draws attention to how anthropological training and insight can be collaboratively harnessed to assist local governments, missionary groups, and foreign aid workers in better serving rural populations. Focusing on local understandings of HIV/AIDS in rural areas of Papua New Guinea, this poster addresses (1) how kinship and gender norms affect the spread of infection, and (2) how Christian Missionary and Government messages regarding AIDS are interpreted by rural populations. Anthropology’s potential for facilitating the translation of biomedical understandings into more readily recognizable and comprehensible forms for such rural communities is tremendous. Likewise our viability as participants, “interpreters,” and analysts of: (a) current educational and preventative approaches being taken, and (b) the cross-cultural viability of various programs and measures. The 2008 AAA theme thus provides an ideal opportunity to highlight the applicability of anthropological knowledge across domains all too often underappreciated by non-anthropological publics. Years of occasionally dangerous, usually challenging, and often exhausting fieldwork is spent with people we typically come to love, respect, and, most importantly, understand. This understanding is the heart of our field, but it can—and often should—serve as an instigation to appropriate action: such as taking active roles in the formation and enactment of new educational plans to more fully inform, equip, and empower rural communities to protect themselves. Anthropologists have much to offer in the fight against HIV/AIDS in rural (and other) settings and it is time to offer it.


Decline: Deterioration amid expectations of progress
Session Time: 08:00 AM - 11:45 AM
Organizer: Jerry Jacka
Co-Organizer(s): Bruce Knauft
Abstract: Against narratives of globalization and progress, of opportunity and connection, people in significant parts of the world find themselves instead in both real and perceived circumstances of decline and deterioration. Bringing this pattern into relief, a range of developing countries have centers of social and economic development where lucrative natural resources or capital elites are prominent, and others, often the majority, where public services are poor, infrastructure is crumbling or deteriorated, and wages are very low to non-existent. The experience and threat of decline amid widespread modern images of wealth and progress poses particular challenges, often resulting in cycles of self-criticism or abnegation, abjection, or, alternatively, the adoption of highly compensatory beliefs and practices, including evangelical Christianity, other forms of religious fundamentalism, or direct action against states or other institutions believed to be obstructing progress. This session will critically address ideas of decline or deterioration themselves, e.g., where these notions stand in terms of local vis-a-vis imparted beliefs, including capitalist / development / Christian, politically modernist, and various notions of environmental or health decline, and so forth. There lingers neo-colonial projection or self-satisfied hubris in the very idea of others' "decline." At the same time, both conditions and national and local beliefs / attitudes / perceptions of decline or deterioration do seem to resonate in some areas, often creating conditions for social and environmental nostalgia. These issues take on special poignancy in Melanesia, Sub-Saharan Africa, and a number of other world areas that have long been perceived and sometimes self-perceived as marginal to the world economy. This session will address these issues and put them in critical theoretical perspective.

"They have forced us back to the ground": Narrating Decline in Tari, Papua New Guinea

Holly Wardlow

Abstract: A former colonial District Officer (turned mining company Community Liaison Officer) once told me that Tari had won the “Prettiest Town” prize during the days of the Australian administration. Tari most certainly would not have won this prize in 2004. I had last lived in Tari in 1997, and since that time the major stores, the bank, the post office, and many primary schools and health centers had closed. Tari had been declared a “no-go zone” by some NGOs, and civil servants had fled the area because of an escalation in crime, including home invasions and the armed holdup of vehicles. An increase in HIV/AIDS had also occurred during this same period of time. In this paper I describe some of the events and processes that led to this nadir in Tari’s postcolonial history. I then analyze Huli (the ethnic group that lives in the Tari area) people’s competing narratives about this rapid socio-economic decline. At times people asserted that the national and provincial governments were conspiring to force Huli people “back to the ground”—that is, back into pre-colonial subsistence living, in order to weaken them as an ethnic group and to appropriate the natural resources (gold, natural gas) that, according to Huli people, rightfully belong to them. These same people at other moments blamed themselves, asserting that sin or the violation of customary taboos had caused the downward spiral. Socio-economic decline set in motion a “bi-polar” narrative pattern in which accusation alternated with abjection.

The Road to Development: Culture, Identity Formation and Millennial Fantasies in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea.
Sandra Bamford

Abstract: Most discussions of the “development industry” have assumed that development represents an external agenda that is imposed on local peoples by outside actors (i.e., the state or international NGOs). In this paper, I describe a different situation. The Kamea of Papua New Guinea have been waiting for their “development ship” to come in for decades. In the wake of ongoing and continual disappointment, they have taken matters in their own hands and are in the process of building a vehicular road that would bisect nearly half the country. In this paper, I describe the social and political ramifications of this project. In particular, I focus on newly emerging forms of ethnic identity and how they articulate with shifting views of the nation state.

'Back To The Village:' Christianity, Development, and Decline in a Melanesian Society
Ryan Schram

In Auhelawa, a rural society of Papua New Guinea, people speak of their history in terms of two epochs, the time before Christianity and after. People's conversion to Christianity, most say, was the end of the traditional way of life and the beginning of their modernity. At the same time, most people also say that Auhelawa is the “last village,” behind all others in their progress towards a modernity they see embodied by Western culture. Moreover, they perceive in their everyday life signs that their viability as a community, both physically and socially, is slipping away. The population is increasing, gardening land is more scarce, and what few material improvements to which the community can lay claim in its mission stations are in rapid decline. As one informant said, “We're just going back.” In other words, Auhelawa see their history at least three different ways: as fait accompli, as catching up, and as sliding backward. I argue that rather than being a contradiction, these three temporalities are interdependent and, furthermore, the perception of decline mediates the dissonance between their preferred view of themselves as having been redeemed by religious conversion and their recognition they are still separated from the standard bearers of Christian modernity in the West. It brings this disjuncture into coordination with contradictions between individual and group, and nature and culture, which themselves derive from a Christian ideology of individualism.

Postcolonial Ecologies: Landscapes of Marginality, Decline, and Degradation from Papua New Guinea and Elsewhere
Jerry Jacka

Abstract: Decades and even centuries of colonialism and underdevelopment have often radically altered social relationships and environmental landscapes in former colonial countries through export-oriented resource extraction and primary commodity production. After independence, many of these former colonies have relied on these very same processes as the basis of economic growth. This paper argues that these “postcolonial ecologies” create landscapes of marginality through which people critique broader narratives of the discourse of modernization and the materiality of global inequalities. Based on research around the Porgera Gold Mine in highlands Papua New Guinea, I explore how the promises of development, which have brought some social and economic improvements, have nevertheless resulted in a situation in which both society and the environment are perceived as being in a state of decline. I advance the claim that this is not due merely to social inequities and environmental degradation resulting from mining development, but also comes from the ways that postcolonial economics reworks sociality and spatiality in this society. Comparative data from other sources are also brought to bear on the argument in order to understand the historically contingent and culturally specific ways that these processes operate in certain areas of the world.

Where New Guinea Fits in a ‘Conserved’ Asian Landscape: The Fate of The Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area
Paige West
Abstract: Papua New Guinea’s Crater Mountain Wildlife Management Area, a conservation-as-development project that began in the late 1970s, effectively ceased to exist in March of 2005. This paper examines its decline through an analysis of the confluence of mining exploration, oil and natural gas exploration, unfulfilled promises made to local landholders by conservation-related actors, unrealistic demands on the part of local people, and an act of unspeakable violence. The paper locates the decline within the larger political ecology of regional conservation projects in which Papua New Guinea and its biological diversity are placed in competition for scarce resources with China, Burma, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

After Modern: Decline at Nomad Station, Papua New Guinea
Bruce Knauft

By 1998, Gebusi near Nomad River Station, Western Province, Papua New Guinea, had given up many longstanding customs and embraced schooling, church, field sports, market, store business, and government projects. By early 2008, however, the 3-building school was closed, government houses were shut, the health clinic had scant medicine and just one nurse, the market was desultory, the government generator was idle, the station radio was broken, and the ballfield was overgrown with long grass. The airstrip had been closed for nine months and Nomad officials, still being paid, had moved to the town of Kiunga. Gebusi said simply, gamani golomda, “The government has died.” Rather then eschewing agency, Gebusi have rejuvenated many customary practices (kogwayay), including costumed dances, initiations, longhouse-building, male joking, collective bamboo pipe-smoking, drinking kava, finger-snapping etiquette, and large-scale male socializing. They also have increased agency in their local Catholic church. Marriage and coresidence have intensified, and the population has grown 38% in ten years. The long-marginalized Gebusi are increasingly prominent in their local context despite and even because of government decline. They do not reproduce their past but draw upon it and remaining external resources in new ways. At larger issue is how the undoing and demise of local modernity opens new possibilities for social response and cultural change. Gebusi and groups like them are actively “after-modern” in ways that are culturally disjunctive and anthropologically poignant if not radical with respect to received Western notions of development, on the one hand, and postmodernity, on the other.

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Agriculture, Conservation and Mining: transforming human-environment relations along the Upper Bulolo, Papua New Guinea
Jamon Halvaksz

Session Title: Human-Environmental Relations and Development Regimes: Case Studies in Conflict and Commoditization
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Abstract: Comparing agricultural data collected from two neighboring Biangai villages (Morobe Province), one engaged in a small-scale conservation effort and the other stakeholders in a large industrial gold mine, this paper analyzes the linkages between alternative development regimes, agricultural transformation and human-environmental relations. While documenting degrees of difference in subsistence and cash crop production, more dramatic distinctions are noted in how community members ‘work the land’. Working the land is not simply about production, but also about knowing the landscape and its products as nodes in human social relations. Biangai conceptualize garden spaces as intimate markers of contemporary sociality and working them collectively affirms both kinship and relationships with the things and places of ‘nature’. Mining and conservation regimes in disentangle these multi-species networks experienced in the garden, and reassemble them into other spaces. Thus, in transforming agricultural practices, Biangai are also transforming how they experience their own multi-species community – its past, present and future. Particular attention is given to the impact that such transformations will have on land tenure, gendered relations and broader human-environment interactions. The paper also documents efforts by the mining company and the author to engage these emerging dilemmas of development. Company interventions into Biangai agricultural practices emphasized small-scale cash cropping and the establishment of permanent land rights through fruit and coffee trees. In spite of their best intentions, company efforts foster a kind of forgetting, where the multiple and fluid networks of land, its products and humans are lost and production is commodified.

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Gwe: A Novel Against Racism; or, Aesthetic Realism Shows Anthropology Is about Yourself

Arnold Perey

Session Title: The Arts and Aesthetics of Race Making
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Containing selections from Gwe: A Novel Against Racism and illustrated by the author’s photographs, this paper explains how the philosophy Aesthetic Realism, founded by the great American scholar Eli Siegel, provides a method by which anthropologists can comprehend the deepest feelings of the people who live in the societies we study. The purpose of the novel Gwe is to vividly convey a picture of those feelings in a New Guinea people—and their relation to oneself—to the reading public. And thus to oppose racism by having the reader see, “The feelings of people different from me are as real as my own and deserve my utmost respect.” Based on extensive research (see, e.g., Perey: Oksapmin Society and World View, doctoral dissertation, Columbia University, 1973), the novel Gwe enables one to see how the Mengti people, like ourselves, are concerned every day with the conflicting opposites on which every culture is based. These include for and against, togetherness and separation, anger and pleasure, respect and contempt, and self and world. The culture, people, and events in the novel—and in the doctoral thesis providing its documentation—are understood through this central principle of Aesthetic Realism, stated by Eli Siegel: “The world, art, and self explain each other: each is the aesthetic oneness of opposites.” In diverse works since 1971 the author has shown how this principle provides a new basis for anthropology which is accurate, ethical, and honors alike the individuality of the anthropologist and his or her tribal friends.

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Sea turtles: 3000 years of reverence
Regina Luna

Session Title: Animal Subjects: Exploring the Shifting Ground of Human/Animal Relationships
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Abstract: A review of the literature shows that the idea of the sea turtle as significant and important, an organism regarded as having great value, began shortly after the initial occupation of the Pacific islands. Human contact resulted in the decimation of turtle populations across the Pacific and it has been theorized that shortly thereafter, cultural practices were put into place that acted to protect sea turtles from the activities that led to that decimation. These practices were manifested and displayed through mythology, legends, folklore, ceremonies, and rituals as well as through the development of various taboos (tapus, kapus) that demonstrated a ‘cultural valuation’?? that elevated the sea turtle above other food sources. Many of the practices were related to religious beliefs and sea turtles were often considered gods and associated with supernatural events. These practices may have begun for any number of reasons, but the result was often conservation of turtle species and elevation of the sea turtle’s significance and value to the culture involved. As more and more Pacific Islanders begin to pressure resource managers for a ‘cultural take’ of sea turtles, knowledge about how exactly these cultures interacted with sea turtles becomes vital to conservation efforts in the region. "Without understanding the human-turtle relationship, no turtle conservation can be effective no matter how much ‘good science’ it relies on" (Frazier 2006).

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Social relationships and cultural learning in Fijian house-building

Michelle Kline
Session Title: Human Behavior in Evolutionary Perspective
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Abstract: How do social relationships create social networks and social group boundaries, and how do these social structures influence the cultural learning strategies of individual actors? Further, how do such factors affect the spatial and temporal distribution of variation in material culture? This last question is of particular importance to the archaeological study of material culture and social organization. I address these questions with data on social networks and traditionally-built homes on Yasawa Island, Fiji. This talk will discuss two alternative hypotheses: (1) that close social relationships determine pathways of cultural transmission, and (2) that opportunities for cultural learning shape such affiliative relationships. This study begins to shed light on our understanding of historical cultural change as it is intertwined with individual psychology and social relationships in the Pacific Islands, as well as adding ethnographic depth and a degree of validity to previously abstract mathematical models of cultural change as an historical process.

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The breeze of a place: invisible landscapes of identity

Susanne Kuehling
Session Title: Contact Zones: Researching, Theorizing and Writing Landscape Ethnography
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

Abstract: The need to put ‘place into motion’ can be catered for by exploring the invisible dimension of space. Local versions of emplacedness in Oceania call for a perspective that accommodates a relational world view. Identity builds on the total experiences of spatial existence that are based on practice and incorporates meanings that are be carried by the air, the all-encompassing and ubiquitous breeze. As ‘invisible luggage’, migrants carry along their ‘home’, as scents and sensations connect them with places, persons, and spirits by triggering memories and emotions.

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“A Pacific cruise collection”: negotiating aesthetics and ethnography aboard the Korrigane 1934-1936 and its influence on French public collections. Hubert Bastide
Session Title: Ethnographic Collecting - The Stories Continue
Session Time: 01:45 PM - 05:30 PM

The Quai Branly Museum opened in Paris in 2006 as an attempt to merge the categories of artefacts and art objects. This mode of display is not new; it is a product of the practices of ethnographic collecting and display in France. It reflects an epistemological tension in French anthropology: between art and anthropology, private initiatives and scientific circles. The circumnavigation of the ship Korrigane, 1934-1936, was a cruise undertaken by five people of wealth. The journey resembled more a luxury cruise than an ethnographic expedition. However, 2,500 objects were collected throughout the Pacific together with 6,000 photographs. Detailed accounts were deposited in the Musée de l’Homme in Paris and a travel book was published after the journey. As a private initiative with scientific approval, the journey of the Korrigane holds an ambiguous and fluctuating status that exemplifies French modes of collecting. The material brought back made up the first exhibition at the opening of the Musée de l’Homme in 1938. The objects have now been incorporated into the collection of the Musée du Quai Branly and 15 are exhibited permanently. This paper explores the multiple negotiations operated by the “korrigans” during the cruise; constantly going between luxurious holiday resorts, antique galleries and week-long explorations and field collections. Their perception of the places they visited was informed by popular imagery, caught between paradise and wilderness. They brought this understanding back to the museum. It has influenced the French public ethnographic collections and their display up to the present.


Marine protected areas: Emerging issues in collaboration, inclusion, and engagement in marine resource governance
Session Time: 08:00 AM - 09:45 AM
Organizer: Courtney Carothers
Co-Organizer(s): Arielle Levine

Abstract: Globally, scientists and conservationists are increasingly acknowledging the need for improved protection of marine environments. Despite international and interdisciplinary consensus regarding the need for increased marine management, the diverse range of institutions, agencies, and stakeholders involved in these efforts are far from agreement on how improvements in marine protection should be accomplished. Processes of marine enclosure are rapidly emerging as a primary response for conserving resources and habitats in the world’s oceans and seas (Agardy et. al., 2003). Over the past decade, numerous international, national, and local-level initiatives and programs have promoted marine protected areas (MPAs) as an effective method to achieve long-term conservation of biodiversity, enhance the sustainable use of marine resources, and empower local communities. While an increasing set of global actors are vigorously promoting MPAs, there is still considerable debate about this shift in ocean governance, particularly concerning the role of people living near, and often reliant on, these protected areas. Many new experiments are currently underway to work with local communities around MPAs, often incorporating techniques piloted in terrestrial community-based conservation programs. This provides a tremendous opportunity to establish new methods of inclusion, collaboration, and engagement of local communities and diverse stakeholders in MPA management, learning from the mistakes and lessons of past terrestrial endeavors. However, establishing protected areas in marine environments brings new issues and challenges, and the social, institutional, technological, and information systems used in land-based conservation strategies are not as developed for marine ecosystems and marine dependent communities (Sloan 2002). Marine conservation faces additional challenges in that user groups are often diffuse and hard to define as traditional “communities,” marine resources are difficult to monitor, and aquatic borders are difficult to demarcate and enforce. While terrestrial conservation generally focuses on involving local residents, fisheries resources are often used by people who come from great distances, use multiple areas, and local “resident” communities may not exist (Levine 2007). The exclusive involvement of nearby communities may overlook the influence and importance of other key resource users, or certain interests group may have a greater ability to influence policy, disenfranchising key stakeholders in the marine management process. Although land expropriation is rare in the establishment of MPAs, the creation of protected areas that are off-limits to fishing creates the potential for a wide range of marine-dependent communities to lose access to a resource base that is critical for economic, subsistence, or cultural purposes. This panel will examine MPAs from an anthropological perspective, looking at emerging issues in collaboration, inclusion, and engagement of stakeholders in marine governance from both a human and institutional perspective. Both national and international case studies will be considered. Of particular interest are the new spaces for participation that have opened in the national and international debates around MPAs.

Demographic and Ethnographic Analyses of MPAs on Opposite Edges of the Pacific
Karma Norman

Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) increasingly include local communities in management practices on a global level. These inclusive policies look radically different in the Torres Strait and the US West Coast. On the US coast, restricted access is shaped by a dearth of demographic considerations at the institutional level. The political and social substrates on the islands of Australia’s Torres Strait are markedly different from those of the US coast. Both are home to Marine Protected Area (MPA) initiatives which alter the nature of the marine harvest for adjacent communities. In the Torres Strait, some protected areas are designed for traditional, culturally esteemed catch practices. Delineated areas include a protected zone which is specifically designated for harvests and trade with neighboring communities. Local communities can advocate autonomy and control over adjacent waters in defiance of the Australian state. This would invert the initial exclusionary vision that marine policy-makers have developed for MPAs elsewhere. On the US Coast, however, autonomy aspirations are not feasible. US fishing communities are compelled to participate in the MPA process. As such, social and ethnographic analyses suggest that demographic and cultural characteristics are related to a community’s integration of an MPA. In juxtaposing these two Pacific areas, and examining MPAs in each, we may view the significance of detailed social analyses to notions of exclusion and inclusion in their respective processes. The capacity for affected communities to endorse the transformation in marine access prescribed in MPAs is connected to extant ethnographic realities, demographics and demographic transitions.

Indigenous Peoples, NGOs, and “Good Governance” in the Establishment of Community-Based Marine Protected Areas: Lessons from Southern Fiji
Mark Calamia

In the last decade considerable attention has been given in the South Pacific to addressing the biophysical and socioeconomic dimensions of community-based marine protected areas (CBMPAs). However, only recently has serious attention been given to the importance of “good governance” in the context of community conservation areas where biodiversity and adequate fish protein sources are of concern. Using ethnographic data collected form southern Fiji in 2006 and 2007, I will present a case study involving a small NGO and new issues of governance in the establishment of a small-scale, indigenous, community-based marine conservation area. I will employ the IUCN Protected Area Matrix as a classification system comprising management category by governance type to examine the CBMPA of Yanuca village, Fiji and the process by which it was established. Key issues of governance, participation , equity, and benefit sharing are considered in the achievement of the CBMPA objectives of effectiveness, equity, viability, and sustainability. The extent to which these objectives have been met through the recent partnership of Yancua village with their partner NGO will be discussed in the context of local governance for long-term resource conservation and cultural sustainability.

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Social Relationships and Digital Relationships: Rethinking the Database at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre
Haidy Geismar
Session Title: After Collaboration: Indigenous Ontologies, Mediation, Museum Practice
Session Time: 01:45 PM - 03:30 PM

In recent years, there has been growing investigation into the ‘relational’ nature of museum collections and archives. Projects such as the Pitt Rivers’ Relational Museum (http://history.prm.ox.ac.uk), use relational database management systems to both give form to their work, and to provide a visual metaphor for understanding the complex networks of social connection inculcated by museum collecting and archiving. In this paper, we seek to unravel and interrogate the connection between "digital" and "social" ontologies within the museum and beyond, using as a case-study the generation of an integrated database for the Vanuatu National Museum and Cultural Centre. Uniting and digitising the VCC archives – including the National Photo, Film and Sound Archive; Vanuatu National Heritage Register, Vanuatu National Library, National Language Committee, National Museum, Traditional Resource Knowledge, Women’s Culture and Sand drawing projects – the VCC database both draws relationships of knowledge, practice and collection into view and generates new connections in a tri-lingual space. We ask, what are the implications of mapping the social onto the digital and vice versa? How is this mapping culturally located? What is the efficacy of global digital connectivity on local museum practices, and other social networks? How do digital relationships affect the production of new collections and new relations to the object world? How does this electronic infrastructure generate or perpetuate hierarchies of knowledge and the political economy of information?


Sustainable Mining
Stuart Kirsch
Session Title: Corporate Oxymorons: Entry Points into the Ethnography of Capitalism
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

From the recognition that mining is inherently unsustainable, leaving behind ruined environments, the industry now promotes itself as practicing “sustainable mining.” This claim depends on “the emptying out” of the ecological aspect of the definition of sustainability. Instead, the mining industry argues that revenue from mining can be used to support a variety of development projects that will continue to benefit local communities even after mine closure. This paper examines how the corporate oxymoron “sustainable mining” has been legitimated. It tracks the way that sustainability was coined as a hybrid term linking science and society, and has been progressively redefined in a series of multilateral meetings. It pays particular attention to the role of capital in promoting notions of “weak sustainability” that effectively license widespread environmental degradation in return for the support of a limited conservation agenda. The paper also draws general conclusions about the relationship between capital and its critics, notably how capital appropriates the discourse of its critics to neutralize their critique.

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Rising Sea-Levels, Kingtides and the Modern Subject: Local Dialogue on an Environmental Crisis in Coastal Papua New Guinea
David Lipset
Session Title: Environmental Subjects and Environmental Activism: Shifting Contexts in an Age of Environmentality
Session Time: 10:15 AM - 12:00 PM

If the contingency of the tragic, modern subject is based in its self-presence, its bounded dissociation from the other, through possessive individualism and agency, the ongoing construction of a unique, biographical narrative, and a concept of indeterminate causation, it is also de-coupled from totemic or participatory concepts of nature through rational knowledge, e.g., the IPCC, the Garnault Report, HIV and so forth. In 2008, the coastal sandbanks on which the Murik Lakes people reside in the Sepik River estuary are being submerged by rising sea-levels and kingtides, which circumstance, while devastating, is not understood as never having happened before, according to ethnohistory. But the state wants to intervene and relocate villages inland. In response, the people do not agree about the meaning or resolution of their predicament. Their views range from melting polar ice, seasonal tidal cycles to sorcery to just not knowing. At the same time, some express suspicions about the state’s motivations in offering to relocate their settlements and others reject the prospect in favor of that which pleases them and what they know how to do and manage, namely, their adaptation of aquatic foraging, articulated as it has become with petty capitalism. In this paper, I discuss how responses to this environmental crisis have not simply advanced the kind of lonely, isolating subjectivity of self-presence mentioned above but have rather constituted a point of dialogical tension at which ‘the Murik subject’ may be overheard both as part of, yet separate from, modernity.

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Beer, Gold, and God: Drinking and the Morality of Failed Development in the Morobe Goldfields of
Papua New Guinea
Daniele Moretti
Session Title: The sociality of drinking: Cross-cultural perspectives on alcohol and personhood
Session Time: 08:00 AM - 11:45 AM

Drinking is an intrinsic part of life in the Morobe Goldfields of Papua New Guinea. On regular pay days or when they strike a rich gold find locals keep buying beer for themselves and others until they run out of money. As they require the expenditure of considerable wealth, these long drinking sessions are valued expressions of one’s productive efficacy. More than this, they show one’s “moral capacity” to reciprocate the drinks, money, and support received from other miners. But if the flow of alcohol is an essential part of the local flow of relationships and how persons emerge as efficacious moral agents, the miners also construe it as a sign of their own “moral weakness” and a central trope with which to explain their failure to use their gold towards “sustainable development.” This paper argues that local discourses of failed development blame drinking not just for causing selfish and violent behaviour within the mining community and “wasting” money that could be spent to improve local services, infrastructure, mining operations, and alternative businesses, but also for threatening human relations with God and the local spirits of the land who, displeased with the improper behaviour fuelled by alcohol consumption, are causing local gold deposits to shrink in size or disappear altogether. In turn, this suggests that drinking is seen not only as a socio-economic issue but also as a moral failing that threatens those all-important spiritual relationships between land and people that are fundamental to Melanesian models of agency and personhood.