The Temporality of Footpaths and Roads in Buka Island: Taking a Maintenance and Construction Perspective
(University of St Andrews)
Paper short abstract:
The paper seeks to draw a comparison between a coral surfaced road and local garden footpaths in Buka Island (Papua New Guinea) by exploring the different networks, relationships and practices that keep them open for the movement and transport of persons and things.
Paper long abstract:
In Buka Island, the Buka Ring Road (John Teosin Highway) that connects the villages along the east coast with the commercial and administrative center of the Autonomous Region in Bougainville, Buka Town, plays a vital role in people's lives and their daily movement. Similarly, from a perspective on movement, the footpaths connecting people to their gardens play a crucial role in their daily and even ritual life. This paper thus seeks to compare how the highway as well as these footpaths are built and maintained, especially in an environment in which their condition is constantly changing and deteriorating due to heavy rainfall and fast-growing vegetation. Moreover, while footpaths are mainly kept open through the constant movement along them, the coral road requires other maintenance interventions. In this respect, this paper therefore intends to examine the networks, relationships and practices that enable the building and the maintenance of the highway and the garden paths. Overall, this paper also seeks to explore the possible ethnographic and theoretical contributions of such a comparison by addressing the following questions: What and who facilitates the building and maintenance of footpaths and roads? What are the relationships sustaining them and what kind of relationships do roads and footpaths elicit?
From paths to roads: the transformative capacities of roads on movement and relationships