Modern Papua New Guinea

Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi, ed.


This collection offers perspective and understanding into Papua New Guinea’s varied social scene and the challenging political and economic realities of a recently independent country.

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Papua New Guinea is a country of great diversity. With more than seven hundred languages, as many cultures, diverse physical types, and a landmass encompassing coral reef, mangrove swamp, rainforest, mountain ranges, and extensive river systems, Papua New Guinea has long attracted the interest of scientists and others seeking to understand or control some part of its rich diversity.

Discovering order in this diversity is not easy. This collection offers perspective and understanding into Papua New Guinea’s varied social scene and the challenging political and economic realities of a recently independent country. The twenty contributors to this volume bring their perspective in one of four areas: The State and National Identity, Economic Development, The New Society, and The People’s Welfare.

Modern Papua New Guinea is written for upper division and graduate-level courses on Papua New Guinea or the contemporary Pacific. It is also useful for specialists in Third World development who do not know much about Papua New Guinea, and as a reference work for Papua New Guinea specialists.


Part One—The State and National Identity
State and Society in Papua New Guinea.....Peter Larmour
Cultural Creator or New Bisnisman.....Pamela Rosi
National Identity and the International System.....Norrie MacQueen
Refugees and Border Crossers on the Papua New Guinea–Indonesia Border.....David King

Part Two—Economic Development
Politics and Economic Development.....Oskar Kurer
Plantations and Smallholder Agriculture.....Scott MacWilliam
The Fishery Resources of Papua New Guinea.....Fred T. Olson and Tim T. Kan
The Melanesian Way of Menacing the Mining Industry.....Colin Filer

Part Three—The New Society
Elites, Suburban Commuters, and Squatters.....David King
Women in Town.....Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi
The Persistence of Inequality.....Martha Macintyre
Men and the Development Experience in an Eastern Highlands Community.....Jeanette Dickerson-Putman

Part Four—The People’s Welfare
AIDS, STDS, and Sex Work in Papua New Guinea.....Lawrence Hammar
Ideology, Curriculum, and Community.....Michael Crossley
Education and Rural Development.....Michael Monsell-Davis
Law, Order and State.....Sinclair Dinnen
Changing a ‘Bad Old Tradition’.....Christine Bradley
Environmental Impact Assessment, Planning, and Management in Papua New Guinea.....Philip J. Hughes and Marjorie E. Sullivan
Protected Areas in Papua New Guinea.....Betsy King and Philip J. Hughes


Laura Zimmer-Tamakoshi is a research associate in anthropology and co-founder of the Owl Network at Bryn Mawr College.


The volume covers a wide range of topics with a balanced perspective of realism and constructive evaluation. Clearly Papua New Guinea faces enormous challenges as a modern nation-state, but the authors also describe, often on the basis of their own long-term experience and commitment, efforts to combat the ills that accompany the emergence of a new nation.

The Contemporary Pacific

This book is essential reading for anyone interested in PNG’s recent history and current condition.

—South Pacific Journal of Philosophy and Culture

Dr. Zimmer-Tamakoshi has done well to bring together such a worthwhile and generally well-balanced set of papers from a diverse group of authors.

—Anthropological Forum

Modern Papua New Guinea is a welcome series of essays on contemporary Papua New Guinea, highlighting many of the social problems but also the potential of the country. It tackles many issues that have largely escaped anthropological consideration.

—Oceania Publications