Economic, political and cultural brokers in remote Papua New Guinea

This research project examines the role of brokers in shaping flows of knowledge, wealth and status at a resource frontier in Papua New Guinea.

Entrance to Owabi Corner, Suabi village, Western Province PNG [photo: Peter Dwyer]
Entrance to Owabi Corner, Suabi village, Western Province PNG [photo: Peter Dwyer]

Overview

This research project examines the role of brokers in shaping flows of knowledge, wealth and status at a resource frontier in Papua New Guinea, and how that role is changing as technologies such as mobile phones and associated social media platforms introduce new modes of engagement between local, national and global worlds.

As an extractive industry consolidates in a green field, particular individuals may emerge as brokers, acting to negotiate relations between members of their own community and representatives of the state, the companies and neighbouring communities. To the extent that such people are recognised and feted by outsiders so they are vulnerable to becoming complicit in, or submerged by, an ethos of inequality that, initially, they sought to manage on behalf of their constituents.

In contexts of these kinds, brokers may contribute both to differentiating the domains that they purport to bridge and to enhancing inequalities in their home communities.

By following the trajectories that key individuals from one community follow, and how these are fostered and interpreted by the audiences to whom they play, we are investigating the demands that brokers service, their positioning, and the tensions they seek to mediate.

Outcomes

Events, publications, reports, collaborations, impact etc

Project details

Research partners

Anthropology, The University of Papua New Guinea

Project team

Associate Professor Monica Minnegal

Dr Peter D Dwyer

Contact

Associate Professor Monica Minnegal