The Bougainville conflict: perspectives from Nasioi
|Collections||ANU Dept. of Pacific Affairs (DPA) formerly State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program|
|Title:||The Bougainville conflict: perspectives from Nasioi|
Bougainville Revolutionary Army
Bougainville Copper Limited
|Publisher:||Canberra, ACT: State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Program, The Australian National University|
|Series/Report no.:||State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) discussion paper series: 1999/3|
In reading journalistic and some academic accounts of the Bougainville conflict, I have been struck by two weaknesses. First is a tendency to emphasise only those events immediately leading up to the outbreak of violence in 1988, to the neglect of significant issues originating decades earlier. Second is a picture of a monolithic, homogenous ‘Bougainville’, ignoring both past and present divisions among the population. Both weaknesses can be addressed by focusing on speakers of a language labelled Nasioi, who claim the land on which the Bougainville copper mine was developed; who have consistently provided a strong voice for secession from what is now the nation-state of Papua New Guinea; and who furnished the core personnel and most prominent leadership of the Bougainville Revolutionary Army. Their history in the twentieth century has been distinctive, and is worth comparing and contrasting with those of the other language groups on Bougainville and Buka islands. My comments are based primarily on my experiences living intermittently with Nasioi speakers from 1962 to 1978, with the opportunity to see at close range the lives they led before and after the development of the giant copper mine.
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