Rot bilong mipela: the politics of logging in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Research output: ThesisMaster's thesisTheses

Abstract

In my master's thesis I explore the political significance of logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In commercial logging the post-colonial state of PNG, its local communities, transnational companies and non-governmental organizations come interestingly together. The central research questions are what forms of political awareness and mobilization does commercial logging bring up in the small scale communities and how – if at all – does logging change the relationship between these communities and the state of PNG.

The thesis is based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 in a village located in the East New Britain province of PNG. The village, inhabited mainly by the Mengen people, was an interesting case, because logging operations had been conducted in the area with the permission of the people, while on the other hand some villagers had formed a conservation association of their own. Parliamentary elections were also held in PNG during the time of my fieldwork. During my stay in the village I took part in the village life and conducted interviews. In addition to this, much of my material is based on informal discussions with people. On my way to and from the village I also interviewed several Papua New Guinean NGO-workers in the national and provincial capitals.

In my thesis I show that environmental conservation in the village is part of a larger attempt to protect local autonomy, culture and the environment, i.e. it is a ”localistic” movement. Locals supporting conservation, as well as those supporting logging, take actively part in national parliamentary as well as local level politics. In my thesis I have attempted to unpack the notion of ”local” by examining internal power relations of the community and describing various lines of thought and opinions that base on local cultural values. Along with this, commercial logging seems also to elicit the role of the state in two-fold way in East New Britain. On the one hand, the government seeks to use logging roads built by logging companies as the basis of its own national infrastructure, even though the company roads are often of manifestably poor quality and short-lived. On the other hand, problems caused by logging, such as land disputes, create a need among local communities for the state and its services.

Central themes in my thesis are the local values invested in the environment, as well as the ways in which the locals produce their environment both conceptually as well as physically. As subsistence farmers the locals depend economically on the condition of their environment. However, the value of the environment goes beyond economical questions. For example, the environment holds proof of the history of the community. Conversely, also the state and companies attempt to conceptualize, modify and administer the environment. This is done through processes such as mapping and road building, both crucial political questions in East New Britain. Here the anthropological discussion about space and place, as well as political geography are central. The diverse ways of conceptualizing the environment, as well as logging, cause often disputes about the ownership of land areas. Because of this I discuss local ways of holding the land communally, as well as PNG's land legislation and ways of dispute management. Land tenure and disputes are political questions that the locals have to deal with and in some cases these questions also create a need for the judiciary system of the state. The disputes affect also political activity, which I discuss at some length in my thesis as well. Interestingly, the locals, regardless of their political views and affiliations, establish transnational connections ranging from NGOs to government departments and multinational companies.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2008
MoE publication typeG2 Master's thesis, polytechnic Master's thesis

Cite this

@phdthesis{7dba194b03f849aa8056e88ff34f1d22,
title = "Rot bilong mipela: the politics of logging in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea",
abstract = "In my master's thesis I explore the political significance of logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In commercial logging the post-colonial state of PNG, its local communities, transnational companies and non-governmental organizations come interestingly together. The central research questions are what forms of political awareness and mobilization does commercial logging bring up in the small scale communities and how – if at all – does logging change the relationship between these communities and the state of PNG.The thesis is based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 in a village located in the East New Britain province of PNG. The village, inhabited mainly by the Mengen people, was an interesting case, because logging operations had been conducted in the area with the permission of the people, while on the other hand some villagers had formed a conservation association of their own. Parliamentary elections were also held in PNG during the time of my fieldwork. During my stay in the village I took part in the village life and conducted interviews. In addition to this, much of my material is based on informal discussions with people. On my way to and from the village I also interviewed several Papua New Guinean NGO-workers in the national and provincial capitals.In my thesis I show that environmental conservation in the village is part of a larger attempt to protect local autonomy, culture and the environment, i.e. it is a ”localistic” movement. Locals supporting conservation, as well as those supporting logging, take actively part in national parliamentary as well as local level politics. In my thesis I have attempted to unpack the notion of ”local” by examining internal power relations of the community and describing various lines of thought and opinions that base on local cultural values. Along with this, commercial logging seems also to elicit the role of the state in two-fold way in East New Britain. On the one hand, the government seeks to use logging roads built by logging companies as the basis of its own national infrastructure, even though the company roads are often of manifestably poor quality and short-lived. On the other hand, problems caused by logging, such as land disputes, create a need among local communities for the state and its services.Central themes in my thesis are the local values invested in the environment, as well as the ways in which the locals produce their environment both conceptually as well as physically. As subsistence farmers the locals depend economically on the condition of their environment. However, the value of the environment goes beyond economical questions. For example, the environment holds proof of the history of the community. Conversely, also the state and companies attempt to conceptualize, modify and administer the environment. This is done through processes such as mapping and road building, both crucial political questions in East New Britain. Here the anthropological discussion about space and place, as well as political geography are central. The diverse ways of conceptualizing the environment, as well as logging, cause often disputes about the ownership of land areas. Because of this I discuss local ways of holding the land communally, as well as PNG's land legislation and ways of dispute management. Land tenure and disputes are political questions that the locals have to deal with and in some cases these questions also create a need for the judiciary system of the state. The disputes affect also political activity, which I discuss at some length in my thesis as well. Interestingly, the locals, regardless of their political views and affiliations, establish transnational connections ranging from NGOs to government departments and multinational companies.",
author = "Tuomas Tammisto",
note = "Pro gradu / Master's thesis Volume: Proceeding volume:",
year = "2008",
language = "English",

}

Rot bilong mipela : the politics of logging in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. / Tammisto, Tuomas.

2008. 105 p.

Research output: ThesisMaster's thesisTheses

TY - THES

T1 - Rot bilong mipela

T2 - the politics of logging in East New Britain, Papua New Guinea

AU - Tammisto, Tuomas

N1 - Pro gradu / Master's thesis Volume: Proceeding volume:

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - In my master's thesis I explore the political significance of logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In commercial logging the post-colonial state of PNG, its local communities, transnational companies and non-governmental organizations come interestingly together. The central research questions are what forms of political awareness and mobilization does commercial logging bring up in the small scale communities and how – if at all – does logging change the relationship between these communities and the state of PNG.The thesis is based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 in a village located in the East New Britain province of PNG. The village, inhabited mainly by the Mengen people, was an interesting case, because logging operations had been conducted in the area with the permission of the people, while on the other hand some villagers had formed a conservation association of their own. Parliamentary elections were also held in PNG during the time of my fieldwork. During my stay in the village I took part in the village life and conducted interviews. In addition to this, much of my material is based on informal discussions with people. On my way to and from the village I also interviewed several Papua New Guinean NGO-workers in the national and provincial capitals.In my thesis I show that environmental conservation in the village is part of a larger attempt to protect local autonomy, culture and the environment, i.e. it is a ”localistic” movement. Locals supporting conservation, as well as those supporting logging, take actively part in national parliamentary as well as local level politics. In my thesis I have attempted to unpack the notion of ”local” by examining internal power relations of the community and describing various lines of thought and opinions that base on local cultural values. Along with this, commercial logging seems also to elicit the role of the state in two-fold way in East New Britain. On the one hand, the government seeks to use logging roads built by logging companies as the basis of its own national infrastructure, even though the company roads are often of manifestably poor quality and short-lived. On the other hand, problems caused by logging, such as land disputes, create a need among local communities for the state and its services.Central themes in my thesis are the local values invested in the environment, as well as the ways in which the locals produce their environment both conceptually as well as physically. As subsistence farmers the locals depend economically on the condition of their environment. However, the value of the environment goes beyond economical questions. For example, the environment holds proof of the history of the community. Conversely, also the state and companies attempt to conceptualize, modify and administer the environment. This is done through processes such as mapping and road building, both crucial political questions in East New Britain. Here the anthropological discussion about space and place, as well as political geography are central. The diverse ways of conceptualizing the environment, as well as logging, cause often disputes about the ownership of land areas. Because of this I discuss local ways of holding the land communally, as well as PNG's land legislation and ways of dispute management. Land tenure and disputes are political questions that the locals have to deal with and in some cases these questions also create a need for the judiciary system of the state. The disputes affect also political activity, which I discuss at some length in my thesis as well. Interestingly, the locals, regardless of their political views and affiliations, establish transnational connections ranging from NGOs to government departments and multinational companies.

AB - In my master's thesis I explore the political significance of logging in Papua New Guinea (PNG). In commercial logging the post-colonial state of PNG, its local communities, transnational companies and non-governmental organizations come interestingly together. The central research questions are what forms of political awareness and mobilization does commercial logging bring up in the small scale communities and how – if at all – does logging change the relationship between these communities and the state of PNG.The thesis is based on three months of ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 2007 in a village located in the East New Britain province of PNG. The village, inhabited mainly by the Mengen people, was an interesting case, because logging operations had been conducted in the area with the permission of the people, while on the other hand some villagers had formed a conservation association of their own. Parliamentary elections were also held in PNG during the time of my fieldwork. During my stay in the village I took part in the village life and conducted interviews. In addition to this, much of my material is based on informal discussions with people. On my way to and from the village I also interviewed several Papua New Guinean NGO-workers in the national and provincial capitals.In my thesis I show that environmental conservation in the village is part of a larger attempt to protect local autonomy, culture and the environment, i.e. it is a ”localistic” movement. Locals supporting conservation, as well as those supporting logging, take actively part in national parliamentary as well as local level politics. In my thesis I have attempted to unpack the notion of ”local” by examining internal power relations of the community and describing various lines of thought and opinions that base on local cultural values. Along with this, commercial logging seems also to elicit the role of the state in two-fold way in East New Britain. On the one hand, the government seeks to use logging roads built by logging companies as the basis of its own national infrastructure, even though the company roads are often of manifestably poor quality and short-lived. On the other hand, problems caused by logging, such as land disputes, create a need among local communities for the state and its services.Central themes in my thesis are the local values invested in the environment, as well as the ways in which the locals produce their environment both conceptually as well as physically. As subsistence farmers the locals depend economically on the condition of their environment. However, the value of the environment goes beyond economical questions. For example, the environment holds proof of the history of the community. Conversely, also the state and companies attempt to conceptualize, modify and administer the environment. This is done through processes such as mapping and road building, both crucial political questions in East New Britain. Here the anthropological discussion about space and place, as well as political geography are central. The diverse ways of conceptualizing the environment, as well as logging, cause often disputes about the ownership of land areas. Because of this I discuss local ways of holding the land communally, as well as PNG's land legislation and ways of dispute management. Land tenure and disputes are political questions that the locals have to deal with and in some cases these questions also create a need for the judiciary system of the state. The disputes affect also political activity, which I discuss at some length in my thesis as well. Interestingly, the locals, regardless of their political views and affiliations, establish transnational connections ranging from NGOs to government departments and multinational companies.

M3 - Master's thesis

ER -