Ringing the living and the dead: mobile phones in a Sepik society

Telban, Borut, and Vávrová, Daniela (2014) Ringing the living and the dead: mobile phones in a Sepik society. The Australian Journal of Anthropology, 25 (2). pp. 223-238.

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Since Digicel services began to operate in remote areas of Papua New Guinea in mid-2007, enthusiasm for mobile telecommunication devices has become a pan-New Guinean phenomenon. During our last fieldwork period, between December 2010 and December 2011, no mobile phone network existed among the Karawari people in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. However, their expectations were high and some individuals had already purchased mobile phones, which they used as torches, radios, and cameras. In Ambonwari village, people were convinced that Digicel would soon build its tower on their land and enable them to ring both the living and the dead. The dead had already interfered with calls and some people were suspected of possessing phone numbers of their deceased relatives. In our article we explore the relationship between mobile phones, the increasing fascination with phone numbers, and the ways in which the Ambonwari perceive, interpret, and engage with the world.

Item ID: 33599
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1757-6547
Keywords: mobile phone, new technologies, spirits of the dead, religious movements, Karawari people, Sepik, Papua New Guinea
Funders: Cairns Institute, James Cook University (JCU), James Cook University, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Art, Firebird Foundation for Anthropological Research
Date Deposited: 25 Jun 2014 01:41
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 70%
16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1699 Other Studies in Human Society > 169905 Studies of Pacific Peoples Societies @ 30%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9502 Communication > 950201 Communication Across Languages and Culture @ 50%
97 EXPANDING KNOWLEDGE > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture @ 50%
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