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Cash cropping, Catholicism and change : resettlement among the Kuni of Papua

CollectionsANU Pacific Institute
Title: Cash cropping, Catholicism and change : resettlement among the Kuni of Papua
Author(s): Gostin, Olga
Publisher: Canberra, ACT : National Centre for Development Studies, Research School of Pacific Studies, The Australian National University.
Series/Report no.: The Australian National University, Pacific Research Monograph: No. 14
In 1961, a Roman Catholic priest informed his Papuan congregation in the mountainous foothills of the Owen Stanley Ranges that he intended to relocate the mission station in the plains further south, and there start cash-cropping. Thus began a unique rural settlement which had neither government nor official mission backing, and which entailed the subtle interplay of the Kuni people's aspirations to modernize,with their adherence to traditional values and social organization. This monograph is the story of the relocation, and is based on fieldwork conducted between 1963 and 1965, with revisits spannin~ a total of twenty years, the last being in 1983. Even before European contact in 1901, the Kuni had developed marked flexibility within their own social organization and adaptability with neighbouring tribes. This trait served them well during the early contact period which culminated in their evangelization in 1935. World War II disturbed the equilibrium by opening new opportunities for employment and migration. The decision to resettle and engage in cash-cropping was a direct response to the trend for able-bodied men to leave the area. The study focuses on problems of social change generated by a new lifestyle entailing unprecedented population concentration and cash-cropping. Changes in leadership structure, patterns of residence, kinship organization and social custom are all reviewed over a span of two decades. An interesting feature of the study is the role of Catholicism and the Catholic ethic in rationalizing, inhibiting and at times facilitating change.
ISBN: 0867849924


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