Accepted paper:

The end of the rainbow: debating new moralities under the oil palm transformation


Patrick Guinness (Australian National University)

Paper short abstract:

The morality of kinship and Christianity among the Maututu of West New Britain PNG is being defined by new horizons with the exploitation and commodification of land and forest resources under oil palm expansion and its related population explosion.

Paper long abstract:

Morality among the Maututu of West New Britain PNG is defined in terms of kinship relations located in space. Settlement places scattered across the landscape bear memories of ancestors who continue to intercede with living descendants on moral issues. This negotiated partnership between the contemporary domestic arrangements of villages and residents' continued ventures into the forest and spaces beyond the village has come under radical transformation with state-awarded logging leases, state purchases of large swathes of land for oil palm cultivation by nuclear estates and settlers, and villagers' conversion of village hinterland to cash crops of cocoa and oil palm. The morality of kinship and Christianity is being presently negotiated under conditions of commoditization of land and obligations and the incursion of thousands of oil palm settlers seeking land and marriage partners from Maututu. The moral standards of leadership, lineage membership and village responsibilities are undergoing reexamination that question the meaning of 'custom' and suggest new norms of interpersonal loyalty.

panel Land02
Moral horizons of land and place