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Becoming LandownersEntanglements of Custom and Modernity in Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste$
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Victoria C. Stead

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780824856663

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824856663.001.0001

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Greeting the State

Greeting the State

(p.49) Chapter 3 Greeting the State
Becoming Landowners

Victoria C. Stead

University of Hawai'i Press

In 2010, a delegation of Papua New Guinean politicians travelled to a remote village called Bongu, on the northern Rai Coast, to receive a petition against proposed mine activity. The encounter between the politicians and the villagers who had invited them involved two very different articulations of power and authority, and two competing cartographies of centrality and marginality. The encounter demonstrated the need to approach concepts of custom and modernity not only as powerful discourses which are taken up and performed in local places, but also as analytical descriptors of actually existing patterns of practice and meaning which are structurally and ontological distinct. At the same time, however, analysis of the encounter between villagers and politicians makes clear that this structural difference cannot be written straightforwardly onto the social bodies of opposing collectivities. Entanglements are destabilising and risky, but also enable assertions of local autonomy and customary cartographies of power.

Keywords:   Madang, Rai Coast, state-building, cartographies of power, Ramu mine, mining

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