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Problem of choice : land in Papua New Guinea's future

CollectionsANU Pacific Institute
ANU Press (1965- Present)
Title: Problem of choice : land in Papua New Guinea's future
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : Australian National University Press
For the peoples of Papua New Guinea land is overwhelmingly important, not only as the sole means of life but also for what it means in their culture. It is inalienable; it came to them from all their forebears, and it will belong to all their descendants. Its emotional and spiritual significance evokes from them a religio-mystical response completely alien to the Western attitude that land is just another commodity. Yet, for a developing nation, land is also a commodity - to be bought and sold for large-scale agriculture, to be mined, to be used for commerce and agriculture, schools and cities. Thus there is an inherent conflict between traditional and potential uses reflecting a profound conflict of values and attitudes. As Papua New Guinea approaches independence, no problem is of greater importance than the role of land, for no other issue is potentially so violently divisive. Is it to be a national estate? Is it to be owned and used individually, co-operatively, corporately? What will be the impact on the whole social fabric of the country and the lives of its people? In essays expressing every shade of opinion from expatriate detachment or involved commitment and conviction to indigenous bewilderment, rage, frustration, or sense of betrayal, the authors in this book examine some aspects of these extremely complex problems. For the future unity and security of the country the answer is crucial. It is one that the Papua New Guineans alone must make. But there is no easy answer, no simple solution, to their Problem of Choice.


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