Words and Representation: East Sepik District, Yangoru 1950’s

In choosing my subject terms, I attempted to streamline my terms to match the content of the reports. In keeping the terms for themes and other aspects of my reports grounded in the actual language, I felt it helped eliminate potentially personalized vocabulary choices on my behalf. My strategy was to call specific terms such as ‘jeep roads’ by the same name as the officers in my reports did, and then I later added in more general terms, such as ‘infrastructure’ or ‘transportation.’ However, my struggle with this approach, and my activity parter agreed with me on this, was that I was unsure if  I included enough more broad terms. My subject terms turned out to be quite pointed and specific, with a few more general terms included as well. I will likely reformulate and rework my terms a bit to cater to both an academic audience that would use such pointed and specific terms, as well as a general audience that is looking for themes or specific information, but may not be aware of terminology from the era, region, or reports specifically. Though I do feel my current terms achieve this to an extent, my discussion with my partner has helped me pinpoint edits I must make as I finish compiling and finalizing my terms.

My partner, Jia, and I used similar processes in selecting our terms. We both tried to summarize the aboutness of the work in our terms while staying streamlined to the terms used by officers. However, Jia included a greater number of broader subject terms, such as ‘reconstruction’ and ‘war,’ and I felt he was very successful in his term construction by doing this. My reports were on significantly different events, so my terms included both technical names for regions and posts, as well as relevant ones to summarize the contents of my reports. Terms that I thought were most relevant include ‘Sepik River, agriculture, livestock, roads, hygiene, and war damage,’ for these were recurring terms in my volume. I thought that these were fair terms to use as far as implications for future and present viewers goes. These terms do not possess biased connotations or opinions, which eliminates a lot of potential influence on a viewer’s initial impression of the reports. They are primarily quite simple and accessible to an academic or general audience, and they reveal important aspects of the reports.

PNG Patrol Report: East Sepik District, Yangoru, 1949-1953

2 Comments


  1. Hi Margo,
    I think you used really effective strategy to choose your subject terms by first collecting specific terms as stated in the report and then changing them to more generalized terms later. After reading your blog, I feel that some of my subject terms are too specific and this might confuse my future audiences. I will need to go back to my key terms and revise them into more generalized ones. Thank you so much for sharing this!

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  2. Hi Margo, great reflection on how you chose your terms. What sort of terms did you modify to make some fit a research audience and some a broader audience? I am curious how you identify that difference. The terms you described above seem very appropriate and useful. What was the process of focusing the terminology like?

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