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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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Landowner Groups and the Codification of Custom in Papua New Guinea

Landowner Groups and the Codification of Custom in Papua New Guinea

(p.75) Chapter 4 Landowner Groups and the Codification of Custom in Papua New Guinea
Becoming Landowners

Victoria C. Stead

University of Hawai'i Press

Although it diverges markedly from the vision of the Melanesian Way elaborated in the 1975 constitution, large-scale resource extraction has in recent decades been championed as the key mechanism for development in Papua New Guinea. In this context, forms of “middle-way” land reform are advocated as means of rendering customary land tenure commensurable with the requirements of modern, capitalist practices of production and economic activity. Principal amongst these are Incorporated Land Groups (ILGs) and lease-lease-back arrangements. Ethnographic exploration of communities affected by the tuna industry in Madang Province shows how these land reforms transform structures and cartographies of power, privileging the agents of the state and global capital at the same time that they transform relations of power within communities. At the same time, however, forms of codification and the assertion of landowner identities allow communities to make claims against outside agents involved in resource extractive activity on their lands.

Keywords:   Madang, tuna industry, Incorporated Land Groups, codification of custom, RD Tuna, Pacific Marine Industrial Zone, elicitation of custom, land reform, negotiability, development

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