Words and Representation

In identifying, the subject terms for my patrol reports and the overall volume I relied heavily on textual repetitiveness and frequent use of specific terminology.  I found it fairly-easy to recognize and compile the list into a specified key-terms section of my patrol report spreadsheet.  Additionally, I chose these specific terms because I felt it would aid those searching through quite a large compilation of patrol report documents.  Congregating metadata is an important tool for this project, because these key-terms will be utilized later to search and locate various labels and groups which are found in multiple places throughout the reports. The subject terms I’ve chosen to use for my volume are as follows:

Inspections; Infrastructure; Land Purchase; Court of Petty Sessions; Court for Native Matters; Whaleboat; Canoe; River; Census; Marital Norms; Barracks; Rest House; Police Camp; Government; Plantation; Coffee; Pigs; Trade; Health; Disease; Councilor; Family Bonus; Tobacco; Murder; Theft; Culture; Customs; Sorcery; Tax Affairs

The list of subject terms above were established through my attempt at being unbiased and objective to the content, cultural norms, time-period, and the Patrol Officer’s point of view.  The terms created were a macro view of the volume, but I attempted to keep the semantics identical as possible.  On the report level, I tried to keep subject terms more comprehensive and specific to the subject within the report.  For example, on the volume level I used “health” and “disease” as subject terms, but on the report level I listed these but also included the sickness type or disease type in the key terms and aboutness sections.

Lastly, I recognized several similarities between the volumes which were assigned to myself and my group partner Lea.  Many of the purposes for each patrol were identical, but the Patrol Officers were different and the routes they took were a little different, which was expected as the reports were a year separated.  The subject terms my partner and I chose to use, do indeed have several implications for future audiences.  In our attempt to be as culturally sensitive yet accurate as possible, we tried to choose our words and phrases carefully as to not offend or misrepresent the culture or people of Papua New Guinea.

PNG Patrol Report: Gulf District, Kerema, 1935-1936

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Rachel Hicks says:

    Hi Scott, it is very useful to distinguish terms that are relevant to the whole volume and to the patrol report. You still ended up with a lot of key terms. Would it be beneficial to combine some of them? Such as court cases (incorporating both types of court and maybe councilor) or agriculture (including tobacco, plantation, and coffee)? I also found it surprising that rest house and barracks were key terms. Did they describe these in depth or did they just refer to them? You chose very detailed terms, so I am just considering some of the reasoning behind your choices and what would be most helpful to individuals perusing the reports.

  2. SCOTT CURTIS says:

    Rachel, very good questions and I’m glad you pointed them out! I think that I’ve just been laser focused on my being precise that I perhaps overshot the desired simplicity we’re going for. As for agriculture, I agree, and will correct that now. In few cases, however, I feel that a separation between seemingly-like terms is healthy and has its place. I’ll explain. In my research regarding the patrol officers ranking structure, I noticed a few (separate) important details that I don’t believe were specified in the reports but yearn deeper investigation. For example, the court system in PNG, which we’ve recognized as Courts for Native Matters may, in fact, be separate in title, location, and purpose from Courts of Petty Sessions. It seems, through reading posts written by patrol officers in a blog styled website (posted below), that “rank” was a term seldom used in Public Service. Whereas, “a better indication of the importance of ‘seniority’ and ‘position’ was provided by the notification of promotions in the Government Gazettes.” The blog explains, over time the position structure and terminology changed (likely after WWII), as did portions of positional authority. While there is much still to dive into and understand, the post offers this bit, which I found interesting to both ‘rank’ and the Courts: “In my experience ADOs in the old system, and DO/ADCs in the new, were appointed before, not after, they took the various Oaths of Office and Allegiance to allow them to sit in the Court of Petty Sessions (Papua) or in the District Court (New Guinea).”

    Source: https://exkiap.net/forum/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1856&start=15

    1. Rachel Hicks says:

      Hi Scott, in the end, you are the expert on this particular volume. So if you think they should remain as separate terms, then keep them that way, I defer to your judgment. I was just wondering if there was a way to combine a few terms so that larger things weren’t lost in the specifics. Maybe it is a balance of both.

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