The Future of Papua New Guinea Studies: Remembering what was never known

Men's house in Tambunum village, Sepik River, Papua New Guinea - Wikkicommons

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Monday 29 August 2022


Hedley Bull Seminar Room 3, Building 130, Garran Road, ANU


Scott MacWilliam



PLEASE NOTE: This is an in-person event only

To understand the present and the possibilities of the future, including for public policy, it is vital to know the past. This seminar emphasises important dimensions of Papua New Guinea’s past that remain not known as well as forgotten and misrepresented. The dimensions considered in this presentation are:

a) the political/ideological foundations which drove late colonial policy;
b) the importance of this policy for establishing what remains a central feature of contemporary PNG, the exceptional proportion of the population who live on rural smallholdings; and
c) that the legal basis of land occupation by rural households, customary tenure, is not `traditional’, a continuation of pre-capitalist, pre-colonial existence, but an effect of policy to extend capitalism in particular forms without producing the social chaos which often accompanies extensive displacement from land.

A copy of the essay upon which the seminar is based can be obtained from

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