Development Conflicts and Changing Mortuary Practices in a New Guinea Mining Area

Jerry K. Jacka

JPS, Vol 125, No 2 pg (133-148)


In the Porgera valley of highlands Papua New Guinea, burial practices have undergone rapid transformations with the coming of Christianity in the 1960s and large-scale mining development in the 1990s. In this article, I examine the changes in mortuary practices and situate these novel practices in theories about the production of space to explore conflicts over land in an era of resource development. Graves, which shifted from remote rain forest lands to the edges of roads and public spaces, now serve as visual public reminders of past conflicts and killings in the development context. The promises of development were supposed to increase social mobility in Porgera, but conflicts constrain mobility in complex ways highlighting the tensions between development, social space and conflict in Porgera.


Papua New Guinea, Porgera, space, death, development

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