Final Analysis

I was assigned to review the patrol reports of West New Britain, Papua New Guinea from 1968-1969. The main topics that circulated these patrol reports were economic development, road construction, and political development. The construction of the roads were consistently delayed because of either there was not enough workers, tools, or supplies, such as pipes. The District Commissioner commented on a couple reports asking the patrol officers to fully involve themselves with the villagers and was disappointed when several times there were a low number of villagers not wanting to help build the road. With the lack of funds, it was decided to bring detainees from Talasea. They were transported by bus to work on the roads in the morning and by late afternoon they were returned to Talasea. The detainees were also brought in because there were not enough local villagers willing to work on the roads. There was an emphasis to have more roads built in order for there to be easier access to travel through out the West New Britain area. With more accessibly to other villages, there would be more opportunity to increase the production of copra. There was a push to expand their economy and the production of copra was one the ways to do so. In the first patrol report of volume eighteen the officer concedes that they current production of copra was low, but he believed that in two years there would be boost in this assembly.  Political development was also a frequent subject matter. The goal of the patrol officers was to get the villager more involved in their local government. However, it was recorded that there was no respect for government because in one area the pig rule was not being practiced. There are also villagers who were disappointed because they believe the government took too long to respond to the villagers needs. In spite of the lack pro-council from the villagers in the beginning, the last patrol report reveals that there appears to be more villagers wanting to be pro-council.

As a current student studying Economics here at UCSD I thought it would be exciting to learn more about a developing country such as Papua New Guinea. In one of my macroeconomics classes that I took last quarter we often compared the graphs of developed countries with developing countries with the Solow model and Romer model. Papua New Guinea was one of the countries briefly mentioned in my Economics class. I also thought it was interesting to learn about the early economic development in the patrol reports that I read and how it was decided to increase the production of a certain product because of the abundance of it in the area. When I was interpreting the patrol reports I wanted to retell them from the perspective of all eight different patrol officers that were included in my volume. I wanted to remain unbiased and for the most part the patrol reports I reviewed had little to do with anything other than economic production, political development, and road construction. However, there were a few times in report number six when I could tell the patrol officer was recording his personal feelings towards the villagers. An example of this was when in the sixth patrol report, the assigned patrol officers briefly mentioned how he believes that the villagers are indulgent and susceptible to cults and that envy has become a problem for these villagers. And he reuses the word envy and explains how it was formed because of the increasing development of nearby villages and how the villagers that are not apart of theses developing villages are left in envy. He adds that envy has brought foreign women to practice prostitution in the area. He also stated that the coastal villagers have lost their weaving and cooking skills. The patrol officer goes on to describe their food being cooked burned. The way that he was describing the villagers made me feel like he was dehumanizing them. I felt myself being biased towards this section because after taking an Anthropology of racism class at UCSD this passage of the report struck me as a racist comment. However, I think that it was still important to include this information because it’s how this particular patrol officer viewed things.

Taking this course has given me a new perspective on who controls knowledge. Historically, the winners or conquerors have been the ones to be able to tell what is out there in the world. This class has also reignited my interest of learning about history and the different viewpoints there are. When I was first going through the patrol reports I noticed there were eight different officers in my assigned volume and most of them cited the same things over again. However, there were around two patrol officers who did mention their own personal comments about the villagers. There was absolutely a paternalistic perspective coming from these patrol officers. Their main goals were to have the villagers receive political education, increase the economic production in the area, and the construction of roads. All of these goals were the ways to assimilate the Papua New Guinea villagers to the system of the Western world. This certainly increased my curiosity with wanting to know more from the point of view from the villagers. It raised questions from me like how were the villagers feeling about all of the changes happening in there area and how would they explain their own culture without having a patrol officer tell it from their position. One of the first course readings that fascinated me with wanting to learn more from the indigenous perspective wasDecolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples, by Linda Tuhiwai Smith. The author Linda Smith is an indigenous scholar who wrote about how indigenous knowledge is represented in her book. Smith explains at one point in her book that many former researchers where not trained, but instead were adventurers. Thus we can see how information being collected from indigenous people can be misinterpreted and there can be biases towards the knowledge of indigenous people. Another assigned class reading that affected my interpretations of the patrol reports was Providing Cognitively Just Subject Access to Indigenous Knowledge through Knowledge Organization Systems, Cataloging & Classification Quarterlyby Heather Moulaison Sandy & Jenny Bossaller. This reading introduced me to the topic of cognitive justice, which brings the idea that various understandings of knowledge can coincide. It is suggested in this reading that there should be a partnership between indigenous people and information specialists for the unification of indigenous resources.

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

Work Cited

Heather Moulaison Sandy & Jenny Bossaller (2017) Providing Cognitively Just Subject Access to Indigenous Knowledge through Knowledge Organization Systems, Cataloging & Classification Quarterly, 55:3, (Required 129-136 and 145-147, skim the rest)

Smith, Linda Tuhiwai. 2012. Decolonizing methodologies: research and indigenous peoples. London: Zed. Intro (pages 1-9 required, 9-19 recommended) & Chapter 2 (pages 44-47 required, 47-60 recommended)

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.