Words and Representation

Copra production and road construction were the main key terms that I used. I chose these key terms because they were the main topics that were focused on in my volume. Before reading these patrol reports I had no idea what the word copra meant. And I thought about changing it to dry coconut production instead of copra, but then I figured that most people who’ll go through these reports would know what copra is. For my patrol report observations I tried to summarize from the perspective of the patrol officer rather than my own.

My partner and I used some similar key terms like copra production and the names of the primary schools in the West New Britain area.  However, his patrol reports were from the early 1960’s while mine were from 1968-1969. I’m not sure if there was more of a push to construct roads in my assigned time period because Papua New Guinea would gain independence only five years after my patrol reports were recorded. My partner’s reports did not focus on road construction, but it centered more on the description of the area and its people.

When I was thinking about what words to use to summarize the patrol reports I wanted to remain unbiased with my point of view and try to retell the patrol reports from the perspective of the patrol officers. There were many different patrol officers in the volume that I was assigned. There were eight different patrol officers out of the nine patrol reports I reviewed. Even though there were eight different patrol officers there was not much variety of thoughts recorded by them. The main concern for most of the patrol reports was the progress of the roads being constructed. Also, the increase of copra production was another one of the main objections of these patrol reports. There was for the most part mundane activity recorded. However, in one of the later reports a patrol officer did use the word “envy” to describe the surrounding villages of places being to thrive. I thought that it was interesting to read about his point of view of what was going on in West New Britain.

Patrol Report: West New Britain District, Talasea, 1968 – 1969

3 Comments


  1. Hi Natasha, so you only chose two keywords? That is an interesting choice, but if those were the dominant themes, that makes sense. Would it be helpful to add the terms economics or development to broaden the scope? Or was it only those two products. It is great that you tried to stay objective in the analysis. Did you notice any difference in the way the officers wrote about the roads or copra?

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  2. Was there only 2 subjects being explored in your entire volume? That would be amazing if it is. But I wonder if copra production may be a bit too specific. I appreciate that you considered that PNG peoples and those knowledgeable in this field would know copra production. However, I can’t help be recall when Cristela said that these reports are open to all. I wonder if someone tasked with researching agricultural developments or GDP’s in the area of PNG would come up with these reports in their searches if they aren’t specifically looking for copra production. And if they aren’t even aware if this production is happening in PNG then would they search for it specifically? I don’t know, it’s just a question that I would be thinking about. Another way to look at it is if at the beginning of this class, Rachel had assigned you the task of looking for PNG’s GDPs via the reports. Would we have known to look up copra production? Or would it be easier if agriculture products or export products would have helped in this matter.

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  3. My reports also mention copra. In my volumes from the late 1930s, patrols were actually being sent to crack down on the illegal exportation of copra to Port Moresby. You mentioned that increased production was a goal of the patrols; does it mention what methods were used? If so, I think it may be of interest for you to consider including a term that summarizes the methods as a way of expanding your keywords. For example, if the patrols were sent to train locals in new planting patterns, I would include words like “agricultural training” or “farming techniques.” I hope this advice helps!

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