This chapter discusses the concept of wantok, one of the signifiers of the “altered contexts” of the social in Papua New Guinea. Wantok, a Melanesian term, refers to a person connected to others by a relationship of reciprocity, genealogy, or cultural affinity. Such relations have customarily been founded in kinship relations and in ethnicity or language groupings—wantok literally means “one talk” in Pidgin. The term wantok flows easily in moments of discussion in Papua New Guinea—almost too casually, like the term “community” here and in other parts of the world. Even with the interaction of strangers who have momentarily come together in a situation of adversity, the sense of relating to a wantok seems comfortably positive and overwhelmingly connected over time and place.
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