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The Chinese in Papua New Guinea »

Past, Present and Future

Publication date: 2024
Papua New Guinean, Chinese and Australian people have long been entangled in the creation of complex histories and political debates concerning the similarities and differences of each group. These debates are fundamental to understandings of how a sense of national unity in Papua New Guinea is formed, as well as within analyses of the wider world of strategic power dynamics and influence. The Chinese in Papua New Guinea offers a comprehensive and nuanced examination of the Chinese in Papua New Guinea. Chinese, Papua New Guinean and Australian interactions are analysed in the context of ongoing shifts in colonial power, increased regional engagement with China, and current political instabilities across the Indo-Pacific region. The many ways the Chinese have been defined as actors in PNG’s history and politics are analysed against the backdrop of a rapidly changing global order. The complexity of Chinese experiences within Papua New Guinea is given expression, here, with chapters that stress political and historical heterogeneity, the importance of language for understanding Chinese social relations, and that articulate rich personal experiences of race relations.

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China’s New Era »

Edited by: Annie Luman Ren, Ben Hillman
Publication date: 2024
According to Communist Party discourse, China’s ‘New Era’ began when Xi Jinping was anointed Party boss in 2012. The shape of this New Era became eminently clear in 2023 when Xi commenced his third five-year term as General Secretary of the Party, a fortification of one-man authoritarian rule unprecedented in post-Mao China. Under Xi, the Party has expanded its influence over government, the economy and society. The Party-State is now more Party than State. The year 2023 saw other ‘new eras’ for China as well. Despite initial optimism sparked by the end of COVID-19 restrictions in late 2022, the Chinese economy in 2023 was buffeted by continuing property sector woes, record unemployment, and an unfolding local government debt crisis. Globally, China adopted a series of new and ambitious diplomatic initiatives to woo the Global South and amplify its voice on the world stage. The China Story Yearbook 2023: China’s New Era provides informed perspectives on these and other important stories that will resonate for years to come.

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Grassroots Law in Papua New Guinea »

Edited by: Melissa Demian
Publication date: December 2023
The introduction of village courts in Papua New Guinea in 1975 was an ambitious experiment in providing semi-formal legal access to the country’s overwhelmingly rural population. Nearly 50 years later, the enthusiastic adoption of these courts has had a number of ramifications, some of them unanticipated. Arguably, the village courts have developed and are working exactly as they were supposed to do, adapted by local communities to modes and styles consistent with their own dispute management sensibilities. But with little in the way of state oversight or support, most village courts have become, of necessity, nearly autonomous. Village courts have also become the blueprint for other modes of dispute management. They overlap with other sources of authority, so the line between what does and does not constitute a ‘court’ is now indistinct in many parts of the country. Rather than casting this issue as a problem for legal development, the contributors to Grassroots Law in Papua New Guinea ask how, under conditions of state withdrawal, people seek to retain an understanding of law that holds out some promise of either keeping the attention of the state or reproducing the state’s authority.

Memory in Place »

Locating colonial histories and commemoration

Publication date: November 2023
Memory in Place brings together Indigenous and non-Indigenous scholars and practitioners grappling with the continued potency of memories and experiences of colonialism. While many of these conversations have taken place on a national stage, this collection returns to the rich intimacy of the local. From Queensland’s sweeping Gulf Country, along the shelly beaches of south Sydney, Melbourne’s city gardens and the rugged hills of South Australia, through Central Australia’s dusty heart and up to the majestic Kimberley, the collection charts how interactions between Indigenous people, settlers and their descendants are both remembered and forgotten in social, political, and cultural spaces. It offers uniquely diverse perspectives from a range of disciplines including history, anthropology, memory studies, archaeology, and linguistics from both established and emerging scholars; from Indigenous and non-Indigenous contributors; and from academics as well as museum and cultural heritage practitioners. The collection locates some of the nation’s most pressing political issues with attention to the local, and the ethics of commemoration and relationships needed at this scale. It will be of interest to those who see the past as intimately connected to the future.

Visions and Revisions in Sanskrit Narrative »

Studies in the Sanskrit Epics and Purāṇas

Publication date: November 2023
Sanskrit narrative is the lifeblood of Indian culture, encapsulating and perpetuating insights and values central to Indian thought and practice. This volume brings together eighteen of the foremost scholars across the globe, who, in an unprecedented collaboration, accord these texts the integrity and dignity they deserve. The last time this was attempted, on a much smaller scale, was a generation ago, with Purāṇa Perennis (1993). The pre-eminent contributors to this landmark collection use novel methods and theory to meaningfully engage Sanskrit narrative texts, showcasing the state of contemporary scholarship on the Sanskrit epics and purāṇas.

Return to Volcano Town »

Reassessing the 1937–1943 Volcanic Eruptions at Rabaul

Publication date: October 2023
Wally Johnson and Neville Threlfall re-examine the explosive volcanic eruptions that in 1937–43 killed more than 500 people in the Rabaul area of East New Britain, Papua New Guinea. They reassess this disaster in light of the prodigious amount of new scientific and disaster-management work that has been undertaken there since about 1971, when strong tectonic earthquakes shook the area. Comparisons are made in particular with volcanic eruptions in 1994–2014, when half of Rabaul town was destroyed and then abandoned. A striking feature of historical eruptive periods at Rabaul is the near‑simultaneous activity at Vulcan and Tavurvur volcanoes, on either side of Rabaul Harbour. Such rare ‘twin’ eruptions are interpreted to be the result of a common magma reservoir beneath the harbour. This interpretation has implications for ongoing hazard and risk assessments and for volcano monitoring in the area.

Chains »

Edited by: Linda Jaivin, Esther Sunkyung Klein, Annie Luman Ren
Publication date: July 2023
Speaking to the Twentieth National Congress of the Communist Party of China, in October 2022, President Xi Jinping reiterated his commitment to the ‘opening up’ policy of his predecessors — a policy that has burnished the party’s political legitimacy among its citizens by enabling four decades of economic development. Yet, for all the talk of openness, 2022 was a year of both literal and symbolic locks and chains — including, of course, the long, coercive, and often brutally enforced lockdowns of neighbourhoods and cities across China, most prominently Shanghai. Then there was a vlogger’s accidental discovery of the ‘woman in chains’, sparking an anguished, nationwide conversation about human trafficking. That was part of a broader (if frequently censored) conversation about gendered violence and women’s rights, in a year when women’s representation at the highest levels of power, which was already minimal, decreased even further. There was trouble with supply chains and, with the Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis, in August, island chains as well. Despite the tensions in the Asia-Pacific, the People’s Republic of China expanded its diplomatic initiatives among Pacific island nations and celebrated fifty years of diplomatic links with both Japan and Australia. As the year drew to a close, a tragic fire in a locked-down apartment building in Ürümqi triggered a series of popular protests that brought an end to three years of ‘zero COVID’. The China Story Yearbook: Chains provides informed perspectives on these and other important stories from 2022.

Islands of Hope »

Indigenous Resource Management in a Changing Pacific

Publication date: May 2023
In the Pacific, as elsewhere, indigenous communities live with the consequences of environmental mismanagement and over-exploitation but rarely benefit from the short-term economic profits such actions may generate within the global system. National and international policy frameworks ultimately rely on local community assent. Without effective local participation and partnership, these extremely imposed frameworks miss out on millennia of local observation and understanding and seldom deliver viable and sustained environmental, cultural and economic benefits at the local level. This collection argues that environmental sustainability, indigenous political empowerment and economic viability will succeed only by taking account of distinct local contexts and cultures. In this regard, these Pacific indigenous case studies offer ‘islands of hope’ for all communities marginalised by increasingly intrusive—and increasingly rapid—technological changes and by global dietary, economic, political and military forces with whom they have no direct contact or influence.

Wehali: The Female Land »

Traditions of a Timorese Ritual Centre

Authored by: Tom Therik
Publication date: March 2023
Wehali defines itself as the ritual centre of the island of Timor. As a ritual centre, Wehali continues to be the residence of a figure of traditional authority on whom, in the 18th century, the Dutch conferred the title of Kaiser (Keizer) and to whom the Portuguese gave the title of Emperor (Imperador). At one time, Wehali was the centre of a network of tributary states, which both the Dutch and Portuguese regarded as paramount to the political organisation of the island. This book is a study of Wehali in its contemporary setting as it continues to maintain its rituals and traditions. Significantly, Wehali is a ‘Female’ centre and its ‘Great Lord’ is considered to be a ‘Female’ lord. Whereas other Timorese societies are organised along male lines, in Wehali, all land, all property, all houses belong to women. Men are exchanged as husbands in marriage. Wehali is thus considered to be the ‘husband-giver’ to the surrounding realms on the island that look to its inner power as their source of life.

Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation »

Journeys in Bougainville

Authored by: Gordon Peake
Publication date: December 2022
In 2016, Gordon Peake answers a job advertisement for a role with the government of the Autonomous Region of Bougainville, a collection of islands on the eastern fringe of Papua New Guinea looking to strike out as a country of its own. In his day job he sees at first hand the challenges of trying to stand up new government systems. Away from the office he travels with former rebels, follows an anthropologist’s ghost and visits landmarks from the region’s conflict. In 2019, he witnesses joy and euphoria as the people of Bougainville vote in a referendum on their future. Out of these encounters emerges an unforgettable portrait of this potential nation-in-waiting. Blending narrative history, travelogue and personal reminiscences, Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is an engaging memoir as well as an insightful meditation on the realities of nation-making and international development. ‘Heartfelt and honest. This book is an insightful read and a valuable addition to scholarship on Bougainville’s journey to peace.’ — Joseph Nobetau, former Chief Secretary to the Autonomous Bougainville Government ‘An excellent piece of engaged travel writing. With first-hand observation and curiosity, Gordon has produced a deeply informed, compelling and evocative account of war, survival and nation-building in what may become the world’s newest country.’ — Tom Bamforth, author of The Rising Tide: Among the Islands and Atolls of the Pacific Ocean Unsung Land, Aspiring Nation is also available as an audiobook.