Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Sago and Kago: The History and Memory of Hiri on the Southeast Coast of Papua New Guinea
by Wu, Ming-Jen, Ph.D., University of Hawai'i at Manoa, 2020, 230; 27961727
Abstract (Summary)

This dissertation is an account of the discourse of development, change, and tradition among the Motu-Koitabu population on the southeast coast of Papua New Guinea (PNG) since the development of the nation’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) project in 2008. The material of the dissertation derives from fieldwork conducted over 18 months between late 2014 and mid-2016 and four months of archival research. Specifically, the fieldwork was mainly conducted among Motu language speakers around the liquefaction plant site, located 15 miles west of Port Moresby, the capital city of PNG. To understand social change, I explore a variety of aspects of the discourse of events—the hiri tradition, the Pacific Games, the PNG LNG infrastructure, and the church politics. Hiri, considered a tradition of the Motuans, was a trading system of pots for sago. The Motuans around Port Moresby manufactured pottery and exchanged their products for sago with the people of Kikori-Kerema in Gulf Province. It is believed that hiri had brought food, cargo, and prosperity to a highly sterile environment inhabited by the Motuans. The PNG LNG project has transported natural gas from the production field in the Highlands through the onshore pipeline to Kikori-Kerema, and then through the offshore pipeline from Kikori-Kerema to the liquefaction plant site. Some Motu people indicated that PNG LNG is like the traditional hiri, bringing prosperity and development to the coastal area. However, the project has resulted in a series of tussles, not only in the gas field region but also among the villages around the downstream plant site. In this dissertation, I attempt to show the longue durée of the Motu-Koitabu’s connection with the outside world to draw food, wealth, and resources toward them. Instead of seeing the colonial history and modern development of the southeast coast as a disruption or alienation, I attempt to demonstrate the Motu-Koitabu’s innovation in reproducing themselves in the infertile environment and in the lack of state services.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Golub, Alex
Commitee: Padwe, Jonathan, Tengan, Ty P. Kāwika, Drechsel, Emanuel, Wesley-Smith, Terence
School: University of Hawai'i at Manoa
Department: Anthropology
School Location: United States -- Hawaii
Source: DAI-A 82/1(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Pacific Rim Studies
Keywords: Connection, Historical conciousness, Liquified natural gas, Motu-Koitabu, Papua New Guinea
Publication Number: 27961727
ISBN: 9798662433687
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