Mesede and the limits of reciprocity in fieldwork at Kamusi, Western Province, Papua New Guinea

Wood, Michael (2013) Mesede and the limits of reciprocity in fieldwork at Kamusi, Western Province, Papua New Guinea. Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, 14 (2). pp. 126-135.

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Abstract

This paper outlines some of the ways I and my research were defined by Bamu speakers living at Kamusi, the headquarters of the Wawoi Guavi logging concession in the Western Province of PNG. These definitions often involved stories about Mesede and other great Bamu ancestors. The stories about Mesede outlined Bamu experiences of colonial and post-colonial development and suggested that Mesede had the power to transform the Bamu's current poverty and marginalisation. The possibility that Mesede could institute a new epoch of development was linked to the Bamu's ability to maintain inalienable ties with Mesede despite his removal overseas. Mesede's story also required me to acknowledge, and productively respond to, past appropriations by Australians, and others, of Mesede. His history placed me in a project of im/possible reciprocity that should have involved me in returning Mesede to his rightful place.

Item ID: 26694
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
Keywords: fieldwork, reciprocity, colonialism, history, myth, Bamu, Papua New Guinea
ISSN: 1740-9314
Funders: Australian Research Council (ARC), James Cook University (JCU)
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2013 11:17
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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