Words and Representations

The methodology I employed for choosing certain overall subject terms for my patrol report volume was to look at the subject terms I used for each patrol report within my volume and decide which ones fit as the best descriptors for the volume as a whole package. I narrowed down my overall subject terms to “infrastructure,” “topography,” “native affairs,” “native diet,” and “coming of age.” “Native affairs” and “native diet” are two key terms that I did not, however, include as key terms for any of the patrol reports within my patrol report volume, but I decided to include these as overall descriptors of my patrol report volume because “native affairs” was actually an explicit heading that was used in some diary entries in my volume to describe relationships between the officers and the natives, and “native diet” encompasses many concepts and topics that I observed within my report, e.g., the local crops that were used for meal preparation.

As a follow-up, here are the explanations for why I picked certain key terms to describe my patrol report volume. “Infrastructure” represents how the entire volume involves discussion regarding the building of roads, schools, and other facilities to acclimate the kiaps with the new environment and provide man-made sensibilities to them that reflect a sense of familiarity for them, i.e., familiarity with their previous surroundings that incorporate Euro-centric ideals and ways of life. “Topography” represents how the different features of the native land are discussed in relation to infrastructural development of the region. “Native affairs” is a key term that is actually used explicitly in the volume, and sections utilizing this term as a heading often include observations and descriptions regarding the dynamic between patrol officers and the natives.  “Native diet” encompasses and represents the different types of natural resources that are listed, which are integral to the local diet, including sago, yams, coconuts, and tomatoes. “Coming of age” is a key term that represents the nature of the ceremonies celebrated in honor of women in this region, e.g., descriptions of local honorary practices, including bride-price (a local form of dowry), and a local type of menstruation ceremony.

The “coming of age” key term is a term that I definitely thought about including as a term to represent my entire patrol report volume. However, the descriptions of some of the practices that are encompassed under this term, such as the menstruation ceremony, were not caught by eye while I glossed over my patrol report volume. While working with Vidal during our class quality check activity, he brought to my attention the section in the volume that describes the menstruation ceremony and its huge significance in the local culture, which was super interesting to me. The other key terms I listed were ones that I already had in mind to discuss my patrol report volume. Overall, having a partner to quality check my volume with was extremely beneficial in that different elements of my volume were brought to my attention. Working with Vidal also helped me realize that the true benefit of these key words is to point out truly unique and repetitive elements within the overall volume, so that patrons of these resources can find information that will be truly useful to them with ease.

PNG Patrol Report: East Sepik District, Yangoru, 1953-1955

7 Comments


  1. I to found it interesting too when discovering tid bits of cultural information about the Southern Highlands Region. I found that the kiaps in the Southern Highlands region constantly had to solve disputes over pigs, and it quickly became apparent to me that pigs are a big deal culturally in the Southern Highlands region. However, the patrol reports do not go in detail as to why pigs were so important, and what they meant or how they were used in ceremonies in the Southern Highlands region. When writing the patrol reports the kiaps definitely stuck to their objectives and intentions. Learning about ceremonies definitely sounds real interesting, especially when reading my patrol reports which seemed like kiaps repeated the same objectives over and over.

    Reply

    1. Hi Vincent,

      That is such an interesting observation. One would think that when interesting festivals and cultural practices are happened upon, they would be expanded upon, but that is certainly not the case in some of these reports, as you mention. The kiaps, like you mention, seem to have their sole objective in mind, so rather than expanding on the significance of pigs in the Southern Highlands culture, they discuss local cultural sensibilities in a superficial way, in relation to their objectives, as opposed to diving deep into why certain things are heralded. Thanks so much for your comment!

      Reply

        1. Hi Rachel,

          That’s true! Looking at external sources from anthropologists definitely helps expand on a lot of the ideas and observations one stumbles upon in these reports.

          Reply

  2. Hi Rukmini, Great reflection and explanation of how and why you chose certain terms. I am still not 100% convinced Native Affairs is the most useful term because it seems like some things are lost in this glossing. Would it be helpful to add something like practices/traditions so things like the menstrual practices are not missed? I’m glad that the work with your partner went well.

    Reply

    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thanks for your feedback. Sure, I have decided to supplement the term “native affairs” with “coming of age.” Thanks again!

      Reply

      1. In the end, it is up to you if you want to keep native affairs. If you think native affairs captures something, maybe you can also add another key term that is more specific.

        Reply

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