IB 2023/05 Revisiting PNG's Dictionary of Contemporary Biography Project

Author/s (editor/s):

Theresa Meki, Nicholas Hoare

Publication year:


Publication type:

In Brief

In 1984, the government of Papua New Guinea (PNG) marked 100 years of formal colonial government by creating a Centennial Committee with the aim of interrogating the colonial past and producing a series of cultural heritage projects of national significance. One of these projects was the Papua New Guinea Dictionary of Contemporary Biography (PNGDCB), an ultimately unsuccessful attempt by historians, librarians and other writers at paying tribute to ‘the persistent efforts, remarkable skills, experimental spirit and zealous concerns of important individuals’, all those ‘men and women who were involved in the nation’s making’.1 As PNG marches towards 50 years of independence in 2025, we believe that this milestone deserves to be marked with similar vigour. This In Brief gives background on the original national project, describes an attempt at revival, and outlines why, despite two failed starts, the nation’s jubilee year is the right milestone to which this project should ultimately be pegged.

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