Accepted paper:

Staying and settling in the urban economies of Mount Hagen and Goroka, Papua New Guinea

Author:

Ivo Syndicus (Royal Veterinary College, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how distinct practices of exchange underlie different experiences of staying and settling in two urban economies in the Papua New Guinea highlands.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores how different principles of exchange underlie contrasting experiences of settling, staying, and moving about, in two urban economies in the highlands of Papua New Guinea. Both these urban economies, Mount Hagen and Goroka, are shaped by distinct practices of reciprocal gifting and sharing. It would be inadequate, however, to thus characterize them broadly as non-capitalist. Through exemplifying the conduct of business and grassroots economic support systems dominant in these respective urban economies, the paper presents an argument for paying attention to how different local values surrounding exchange and appropriate relating are reflected in urban economies. We suggest looking beyond a dichotomous understanding of capitalist and non-capitalist contexts, for understanding how market and redistribution become integrated.

The area of Mount Hagen became widely known to anthropologists through the ceremonial exchange system of moka (A. Strathern 1971). Simply put, moka consists of reciprocal exchange in which wealth is disbursed and later recalled with an increment. The principle underlying moka, arguably, may be compared to an investment with interest. While its ceremonial aspects may have increasingly changed over the last decades, its underlying principle continues to inform Mount Hagen's urban economy and life, affording it a 'business-minded' reputation. The area of Goroka, in contrast, has been characterized as guided by values of equivalence, equality, and parity in exchange and relations (Read 1959). In contemporary Goroka, this manifests in people's perceived pressure to level differences of wealth through redistribution. These differences have implications for settling, staying, and moving about.

panel P013
Urban economies which make you stay [Anthropology of Economy Network]