Accepted paper:

The kingdom of Papala


Simon Kenema

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines moral anxieties in a post-conflict society.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I look at U-Vistract, an infamous money scheme with its origin in Port Moresby and Bougainville Island (PNG) that over time has reconfigured itself into a monarchical regime of sorts known as the Kingdom of Papala. The piece adopts U-Vistract primarily as an entry point into an analysis of local anxieties and concerns about the transformative effects and influences of social change and identity politics. The paper deals with various and often competing understandings about money, investment, wealth and certain ideas about what a good life constitutes. One issue the paper addresses pertains to the question about whether it is sufficient to explicate the workings of U-Vistract within the primer of economic calculus and fraud, detached from ideas about history, kinship, land, and myths, to which ideas about the entity have a powerful affinity. I examine the extent to which U-Vistract may be an articulation of deeply entrenched and complex cultural manifestation of moral anxieties and concerns in a society in the throes of a long and painful recovery from a costly conflict. More importantly I explore the extent to which notions about kinship, land, and myth underpin certain ideas about U-Vistract. For, part of what I intend to explore is the relation between the Panguna mine and U-Vistract as the locus of particular ideas about wealth generation, economic prosperity and the sensibilities about trust and betrayal that reverberate through the history of both the Panguna mine and U-Vistract.

panel Land02
Moral horizons of land and place