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Wetland drainage and agricultural transformations in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea




Ballard, Christopher

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Blackwell Publishing Ltd


Models of prehistoric agricultural transformation in the New Guinea highlands have relied heavily on sequences of the use and abandonment of drained wetland gardens. Drawing on archaeological and oral historical lines of evidence, this paper offers a detailed account of wetland use in the Tari region of the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea. The relatively late exploitation of the largest and most productive wetland in this region poses problems for models of agricultural change founded principally on population pressure, and requires a more complex account that integrates environmental and social explanations, and allows for both intended and unintended consequences for the actions of historical agents. Explanations for the apparent intensification of wetland use in the Haeapugua Swamp, the case study for this paper, appear to require a complex intersection of hydrological constraints and increasing demands on production, relating specifically to the production of pigs.



Keywords: agricultural change; agricultural history; drainage; wetland; agriculture; animal; article; commercial phenomena; crop; developing country; economics; education; environment; ethnology; food; history; industry; legal aspect; Papua New Guinea; swine; water Agricultural history; Archaeology; Intensification; New Guinea; Oral history; Production; Wetland drainage



Asia Pacific Viewpoint


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