New Actors, Historic Landscapes: The making of a frontier place in Papua New Guinea

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

Abstract

The thesis examines how the Mengen living in the rural Pomio District in Papua New Guinea reproduce their society and their lived environment by engaging in swidden horticulture, logging, wage labor on plantations and community conservation. These four practices have created and continue to create different kinds of places and social relations that involve the Mengen, like other inhabitants of Pomio, within larger political and economic structures. These have also produced, reproduced and at times significantly changed the environment of the Mengen. By examining the four complex modes of engaging with the environment, the thesis seeks to answer two questions. First, how the Mengen produce their livelihood, a socially meaningful environment and valued social relations in the process. Second, how the Mengen take part in natural resource extraction, the expansion of industrial agriculture and state territorialization on a resource frontier---a spatialized process in which resources, practices and their values are defined. This often involves struggle, which reflects the notion that the greatest political struggles are not only over who gets to appropriate value, but who gets to define it. The study is aimed as a contribution to the understandings of human-environmental relations and natural resource extraction. It suggests that political ecology combined with anthropological theories of value help us understand how people who have intimate relations with their lived environment engage in a globalized resource economy. The thesis argues that there is no uniform way in which "the Mengen" take part in logging or the making of the state. The very different approaches deployed and the ensuing disagreements are, however, often disagreements over how best to pursue Mengen values of establishing productive relations with each other, the land and people from elsewhere. The Mengen have been successful in retaining their system of values over long and extensive contact with commodity relations, foreign companies and state administrations, while adapting to and incorporating these changes into their lives without losing hold of what they value. A key reason for this is that they have not been dispossessed of their lands, but continue to hold them communally.
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Helsinki
Supervisors/Advisors
  • Kaartinen, Timo, Supervisor
  • Lounela, Anu, Supervisor
Award date24 Apr 2018
Place of PublicationHelsinki
Publisher
Print ISBNs978-951-51-4026-5
Electronic ISBNs978-951-51-4027-2
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

Fields of Science

  • 5143 Social anthropology
  • political ecology
  • environment
  • political economy
  • logging
  • swidden horticulture
  • kinship
  • oil palm
  • agriculture

Cite this

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abstract = "The thesis examines how the Mengen living in the rural Pomio District in Papua New Guinea reproduce their society and their lived environment by engaging in swidden horticulture, logging, wage labor on plantations and community conservation. These four practices have created and continue to create different kinds of places and social relations that involve the Mengen, like other inhabitants of Pomio, within larger political and economic structures. These have also produced, reproduced and at times significantly changed the environment of the Mengen. By examining the four complex modes of engaging with the environment, the thesis seeks to answer two questions. First, how the Mengen produce their livelihood, a socially meaningful environment and valued social relations in the process. Second, how the Mengen take part in natural resource extraction, the expansion of industrial agriculture and state territorialization on a resource frontier---a spatialized process in which resources, practices and their values are defined. This often involves struggle, which reflects the notion that the greatest political struggles are not only over who gets to appropriate value, but who gets to define it. The study is aimed as a contribution to the understandings of human-environmental relations and natural resource extraction. It suggests that political ecology combined with anthropological theories of value help us understand how people who have intimate relations with their lived environment engage in a globalized resource economy. The thesis argues that there is no uniform way in which {"}the Mengen{"} take part in logging or the making of the state. The very different approaches deployed and the ensuing disagreements are, however, often disagreements over how best to pursue Mengen values of establishing productive relations with each other, the land and people from elsewhere. The Mengen have been successful in retaining their system of values over long and extensive contact with commodity relations, foreign companies and state administrations, while adapting to and incorporating these changes into their lives without losing hold of what they value. A key reason for this is that they have not been dispossessed of their lands, but continue to hold them communally.",
keywords = "5143 Social anthropology, political ecology, environment, political economy, logging, swidden horticulture, kinship, oil palm, agriculture",
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New Actors, Historic Landscapes : The making of a frontier place in Papua New Guinea. / Tammisto, Tuomas Aku Wiljami.

Helsinki : University of Helsinki, 2018. 243 p.

Research output: ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph

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N2 - The thesis examines how the Mengen living in the rural Pomio District in Papua New Guinea reproduce their society and their lived environment by engaging in swidden horticulture, logging, wage labor on plantations and community conservation. These four practices have created and continue to create different kinds of places and social relations that involve the Mengen, like other inhabitants of Pomio, within larger political and economic structures. These have also produced, reproduced and at times significantly changed the environment of the Mengen. By examining the four complex modes of engaging with the environment, the thesis seeks to answer two questions. First, how the Mengen produce their livelihood, a socially meaningful environment and valued social relations in the process. Second, how the Mengen take part in natural resource extraction, the expansion of industrial agriculture and state territorialization on a resource frontier---a spatialized process in which resources, practices and their values are defined. This often involves struggle, which reflects the notion that the greatest political struggles are not only over who gets to appropriate value, but who gets to define it. The study is aimed as a contribution to the understandings of human-environmental relations and natural resource extraction. It suggests that political ecology combined with anthropological theories of value help us understand how people who have intimate relations with their lived environment engage in a globalized resource economy. The thesis argues that there is no uniform way in which "the Mengen" take part in logging or the making of the state. The very different approaches deployed and the ensuing disagreements are, however, often disagreements over how best to pursue Mengen values of establishing productive relations with each other, the land and people from elsewhere. The Mengen have been successful in retaining their system of values over long and extensive contact with commodity relations, foreign companies and state administrations, while adapting to and incorporating these changes into their lives without losing hold of what they value. A key reason for this is that they have not been dispossessed of their lands, but continue to hold them communally.

AB - The thesis examines how the Mengen living in the rural Pomio District in Papua New Guinea reproduce their society and their lived environment by engaging in swidden horticulture, logging, wage labor on plantations and community conservation. These four practices have created and continue to create different kinds of places and social relations that involve the Mengen, like other inhabitants of Pomio, within larger political and economic structures. These have also produced, reproduced and at times significantly changed the environment of the Mengen. By examining the four complex modes of engaging with the environment, the thesis seeks to answer two questions. First, how the Mengen produce their livelihood, a socially meaningful environment and valued social relations in the process. Second, how the Mengen take part in natural resource extraction, the expansion of industrial agriculture and state territorialization on a resource frontier---a spatialized process in which resources, practices and their values are defined. This often involves struggle, which reflects the notion that the greatest political struggles are not only over who gets to appropriate value, but who gets to define it. The study is aimed as a contribution to the understandings of human-environmental relations and natural resource extraction. It suggests that political ecology combined with anthropological theories of value help us understand how people who have intimate relations with their lived environment engage in a globalized resource economy. The thesis argues that there is no uniform way in which "the Mengen" take part in logging or the making of the state. The very different approaches deployed and the ensuing disagreements are, however, often disagreements over how best to pursue Mengen values of establishing productive relations with each other, the land and people from elsewhere. The Mengen have been successful in retaining their system of values over long and extensive contact with commodity relations, foreign companies and state administrations, while adapting to and incorporating these changes into their lives without losing hold of what they value. A key reason for this is that they have not been dispossessed of their lands, but continue to hold them communally.

KW - 5143 Social anthropology

KW - political ecology

KW - environment

KW - political economy

KW - logging

KW - swidden horticulture

KW - kinship

KW - oil palm

KW - agriculture

M3 - Doctoral Thesis

SN - 978-951-51-4026-5

T3 - Research Series in Anthropology

PB - University of Helsinki

CY - Helsinki

ER -

Tammisto TAW. New Actors, Historic Landscapes: The making of a frontier place in Papua New Guinea. Helsinki: University of Helsinki, 2018. 243 p. (Research Series in Anthropology; 27).