Making History Module Essay by: Julian Bedford

Part One: Patrol, Report and Context

Patrol Officer G.P. Jensen-Muir conducted and recorded a patrol in the Southern Highlands region of Papua New Guinea over twenty-four days from July 14 – August 6, 1958.[1] Jensen-Muir’s report forms part of an archival collection of similar reports from the highlands of Papua New Guinea, the study of which can reveal much about the indigenous population, the colonial administrators and the processes through which they interacted.[2] Kiaps and their reports are extremely valuable historical sources – Papuan historian August Kituai describes patrol officers as shouldering ‘the burden of practical administration’ of ‘an imposed political system’.[3] By highlighting key pieces of information held in the report and positioning them in relation to their historical context, this analysis aims to present an informed understanding of the contents of the patrol report.

Jensen-Muir patrolled the Mt. Huriba and Haibuga Marsh census areas, north and east of Tari station, with orders from the Assistant District Officer of the Southern Highlands District to census all groups, resolve ‘native’ disputes, attend to matters of ‘native’ administration and instruct the groups encountered in gravelling the local vehicle road.[4] Additionally, Jensen-Muir acted on verbal instructions to erect a trig point on Mt. Huriba and map the surrounding area, as well as late in the patrol being instructed to abandon census taking to procure witnesses for a Supreme Court hearing.[5] Jensen-Muir’s report describes these actions, along with observations of the local population, part of the Huli language group. Being within approximately 16 kms of the permanent station at Tari, and having received regular patrols in the past, the local Huli population were described as being welcoming of the patrol.[6] Several parts of the report stand out as worthy of closer study.

Census taking was met with suspicion due to previous patrols making arrests in order to stop ‘tribal fighting’.[7] Some of this inter-group violence was still evident in Jensen-Muir’s patrol, with census taking at Tombere being interrupted by a ‘disturbance’ between members of the Arua and Karide patrilineal clans. Attributed by Jensen-Muir to ‘hot-headed’ behaviour that he saw as typical of the Huli people, he prohibited any gatherings during census-taking, and exhorted to the people that their ‘male dignity’ would be preserved by settling matters in a colonial court.[8] This approach was typical of kiaps of the time. Patrol officer J.P. Sinclair noted that patrolling is ‘a constant reminder to the people of the power of the government, and in time they learn to bring their troubles to be settled by the “Kiap”’.[9]

Jensen-Muir’s anthropological observations are relevant as a study of the local population, as well as a reflection of the broad scope of patrol remit. Details of the usufructuary land rights system, group dynamics, and the ways in which this relates to patrilineal and matrilineal inheritance are demonstrated in Jensen-Muir’s record of two Pibi clans near Lake Walolo, geographically separated by other clans. Dwyer and Minnegal note that observations of which clan resides where, and who identifies as belonging to which clan, as recorded in patrol reports, has far reaching effects. Determining land rights for industrial developments in the highlands is often dependent on archived census and patrol information.[10] Dwyer and Minnegal lament that places and affiliations were not always accurately recorded; ‘communities assumed a temporal fixity’ and ‘connections were established between places by virtue of the fact that they now shared a name.’[11] Jensen-Muir’s Pibi clan example may be just such an example.

Finally, the timing of the patrol is particularly interesting, both on a micro and a macro scale. The patrolled area was de-restricted on March 20, 1958, only four months before the patrol.[12] The Restricted Areas Ordinance prevented non-governmental European access to certain areas in the interests of protection of both parties.[13] De-restriction indicates that the area was considered to be under sufficient governmental influence to safely allow outsiders in. Despite this short window of opportunity, two mission stations were already established in the area, and Jensen-Muir remarks on the notable size of their following, ‘even at this early stage’.[14] This is a valuable example of the zeal and alacrity with which missionaries approached establishing influence in untapped areas. On a larger scale, this report is evidence of Australia’s post-war commitment to ‘improving’ the territories they felt they owed such a debt to.[15] Patrol officers such as Jensen-Muir were engaged in furthering what ‘the Government regards … as its bounden duty to further to the utmost the advancement of the natives’, as described by Federal Minister for External Territories Edward Ward in 1945.[16]

Part Two – Methodological Approaches to the Patrol Report

            Ricardo Roque and Kim Wagner do not despair at the difficulty of writing even handed history when most of the primary documents available for study are products of colonial systems; instead they advocate for a process that ‘engage[s] colonial knowledge as a way to quit Europe.’[17] Just such an approach can be taken to the patrol reports of this collection, utilising methodologies and supplemental sources that highlight absences in colonial histories, and proposing ways to fill these gaps from the often neglected indigenous perspective.

            Bernard Cohn provides a useful framework to examine colonial modalities that exerted power through an officialization of procedure, defining and standardising behaviours in colonial territories in an effort towards building acquiescent states. [18] Most noticeable in Jensen-Muir’s report are Cohn’s survey and enumerative modalities, as evident in his diligent census-taking, map making and anthropological assumptions.[19] The fault that Cohn finds with taking the results of these modalities at face value is that they were ‘part of the European world of social theories and classificatory schema that were formed … to reshape the lives of their subjects’.[20] How could a record be truly representative when it was a tool primarily used to shape its subject?

            A particularly potent example of this in Jensen-Muir’s report is his official recommendation that two census areas be combined to better represent the migratory practice of the population, explaining that the two areas share population without regard to the geographic boundary of the Pibida-Iebiria Ridge.[21] Despite the fact that Jensen-Muir is attempting to improve the system, it is obvious that it is a census system designed for static, settled populations and its application in this context would require major systemic adjustment rather than simple geographic tweaking. Dwyer and Minnegal note that ‘[highland] communities were fluid with respect to both membership and residential location.’[22] That the census system is fit for purpose is an assumption shared nevertheless by Jensen-Muir and his superiors; an official letter from the Acting District Commissioner that accompanies the report praises Jensen-Muir and contemplates his suggestion.[23]

            These shared assumptions are in part a result of patrol officer training administered by the Australian School of Pacific Administration (ASOPA). By reading the patrol report in conjunction with the 1952 ASOPA handbook, Jensen-Muir’s perspective and inherent prejudice can be accounted for and a more holistic understanding reached. In some ways it is obvious that the handbook is the self-aware result of modernisation of the colonial project, with a ‘Consideration of some of the ways in which the presence and activities of the white man in New Guinea have affected the native manner of life.’[24] Other sections belie this modern bent, with an introduction to anthropology being characterised by ‘different physical types and a consideration of the significance of “racial differences”.’[25] Although here it is obvious that the patrol officers were expected to exert an outdated benevolent paternalism on the local people, this may have been a reaction against forms of ‘exploitative colonialism’ that had characterised pre-war Papua and New Guinea.[26]

            Robert Glasse, whose Huli anthropological work around Tari station was contemporaneous with Jensen-Muir’s patrol, provides a valuable counter perspective to the Australian government policy-centred work of the patrol officers.[27] Andrew Strathern describes Glasse’s field work as detailing ‘what is perhaps the most complex system of descent and residence in the Highlands’.[28] This is in stark contrast to the simplistic half page summary that these subjects merit in Jensen-Muir’s report.[29] The comparison between observations made for implementing governmental systems and those made for independent academic research reveals much about the ways in which motives, resources and perspectives can influence conclusions.

            Likewise, by unpacking indigenous Papua New Guinean perspectives in relation to the colonial modalities present in the patrol reports, there is room for alternative explanations for behaviours described in Jensen-Muir’s report.  Kituai characterises the patrol officer as one who ‘commanded power from a personal, political and material perspective.’[30] In the face of a kiap with a monopoly over trade, weapons, supplies and violence, it is highly unlikely that any observations made by the patrol officer reflected anything close to typical life in the highlands. Kituai summarises it well: ‘The traditional village arrangement, complex, variable, and familiar, was unable to contain the foreigners.’[31] It is important to note that there is a distinct lack of writing on this subject from a Papua New Guinean perspective, which is self-evident as an example of power imbalance in the postcolonial era of knowledge.

            It is apparent then, that Roque and Wagner are correct. Colonial knowledge such as patrol reports can be read as valuable historical sources in their own right, but can also be co-opted for alternative perspectives through the application of counter-methodologies, and when read in relation to complementary sources.

Summary

This patrol was conducted and recorded by Patrol Officer G.P. Jensen-Muir from July 14 – August 6, 1958, being a total of twenty-four days. The areas patrolled were Mt. Huriba and the Haibuga Marsh, two census areas north and east of Tari station in the Southern Highlands (now Huli Province). This was the first patrol into this area since de-restriction on March 20, 1958. The main object of this patrol was to take an initial census of the Huli people of these two areas, perform administrative tasks such as conflict and complaint resolution, erect a trig point atop Mt. Huriba in order to map the surrounding countryside, and instruct the local population in beginning the gravelling and metalling of vehicle roads. The census taking of the Mt. Huriba area in the latter part of the patrol was interrupted by the need for procurement of witnesses for a sitting of the Supreme Court, as this was unexpectedly running ahead of schedule. The report presents detailed observations of these two areas, including the process of census taking, ‘native affairs’, the health concerns of the population, anthropological details, the presence of missions in the area, mapping, agriculture, and the status of road building. The report also contains the census results, recorded in a ‘Village Population Register’, a sketch map of the area, as well as reports on the conduct and competency of the members of the Royal Papua and New Guinea Constabulary, and Department of Native Affairs interpreter that accompanied the patrol.

Key Words: Census; Missions; Agriculture; Roads; Law; Crime; Rites and Ceremonies.

Bibliography

Australian School of Pacific Administration, Handbook of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, 1952, Trove[online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Cohn, Bernard S., Colonialism and its forms of knowledge: The British in India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1996, Fulcrum [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 4 March 1945, Edward Ward, Minister for External Territories (Australia), <https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:%22hansard80/hansardr80/1945-07-04/0075%22>, accessed 28 September 2020.

Dwyer, Peter D. & Minnegal, Monica, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports– 1: South of the Blucher Range’, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 55(1), 2020, pp. 115-125, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Dwyer, Peter D. & Minnegal, Monica, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports – 3: Burnett River People’, The Journal of Pacific History, 2019, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Farge, Arlette, The Allure of the Archives, trans. T. Scott-Railton, Yale University Press, New Haven & London, 2013.

Jensen-Muir, G.P., Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, 14 July – 6 August 1958, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea, Patrol Reports, Southern Highlands, Tari Station, 1958-59, vol. 10, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb7681073d, accessed 12 September 2020.

Jinks, Brian, ‘Australia’s Post-War Policy for New Guinea and Papua’, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 17(2), 1982, pp. 86-100, JSTOR [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Kituai, August Ibrum K., ‘The Role of the Patrol Officer in Papua New Guinea’, chapter in My Gun, My Brother: The World of the Papua New Guinea Colonial Police, 1920-1960, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998, pp. 19-41, JSTOR [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Lambert, Bruce, ‘Robert Glasse, 63, An Anthropologist in New Guinea, Dies’, The New York Times, 6 January 1993, <https://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/06/nyregion/robert-glasse-63-an-anthropologist-in-new-guinea-dies.html>, accessed 28 September 2020.

Nelson, Hank, Taim Bilong Masta: The Australian Involvement with Papua New Guinea, Australian Broadcasting Commission, Sydney, 1982.

Ogborn, Miles, ‘Archive’, chapter in J. Agnew and D.N. Livingstone (eds.), The Sage Handbook of Geographical Knowledge, SAGE, Los Angeles, 2011, pp. 88-98, EBSCOhost [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Roque, Ricardo & Wagner, Kim A., ‘Introduction: Engaging Colonial Knowledge’, in Roque and Wagner (eds.), Engaging Colonial Knowledge: Reading European Archives in World History, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011, pp. 1-32, EBSCOhost [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Sinclair, J.P., ‘Patrolling in the restricted areas of Papa and New Guinea’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 8(3), 1954, pp. 129-145, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

Stoler, Ann Laura, ‘Chapter One: Prologue in Two Parts’, chapter in Along the Archival Grain: Epistemic Anxieties and Colonial Common Sense, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2009.

Strathern, Andrew, ‘Looking Backward and Forward’, chapter in Hays, Terence. E. (ed.), Ethnographic Presents: Pioneering Anthropologists in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1992, pp. 250-287, EBSCOhost [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.


[1] G.P. Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, 14 July – 6 August 1958, National Archives and Public Records Services of Papua New Guinea, Patrol Reports, Southern Highlands, Tari Station, 1958-59, vol. 10, p. i, https://library.ucsd.edu/dc/object/bb7681073d, accessed 12 September 2020.

[2] P.D. Dwyer & M. Minnegal, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports – 1: South of the Blucher Range’, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 55(1), 2020, p. 115, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[3] A.I.K. Kituai, ‘The Role of the Patrol Officer in Papua New Guinea’, chapter in My Gun, My Brother: The World of the Papua New Guinea Colonial Police, 1920-1960, University of Hawai’i Press, Honolulu, 1998, pp. 40-41, JSTOR [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[4] Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, p. iv.

[5] Ibid, p. 2.

[6] Ibid, p. 10.

[7] Ibid, p. 8.

[8] Ibid, p. 10.

[9] J.P. Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the restricted areas of Papa and New Guinea’, Australian Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 8(3), 1954, p. 145, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[10] Dwyer & Minnegal, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports – 1’, p. 117.

[11] Ibid, p. 125.

[12] Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, p. 2.

[13] Sinclair, ‘Patrolling in the restricted areas of Papa and New Guinea’, p. 129.

[14] Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, p. 14.

[15] B. Jinks, ‘Australia’s Post-War Policy for New Guinea and Papua’, The Journal of Pacific History, Vol. 17(2), 1982, p. 86, JSTOR [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[16] Commonwealth, Parliamentary Debates, House of Representatives, 4 March 1945, Edward Ward, Minister for External Territories (Australia), https://parlinfo.aph.gov.au/parlInfo/search/display/display.w3p;query=Id:%22hansard80/hansardr80/1945-07-04/0075%22, accessed 28 September 2020.

[17] R. Roque, & K.A. Wagner, ‘Introduction: Engaging Colonial Knowledge’, in Roque and Wagner (eds.), Engaging Colonial Knowledge: Reading European Archives in World History, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2011, p. 32, EBSCOhost [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[18] B.S. Cohn, Colonialism and its forms of knowledge: The British in India, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1996, p. 1-2. Fulcrum [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[19] Ibid, p. 7-8.

[20] Ibid, p. 11.

[21] Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, p. 13.

[22] P.D. Dwyer, & M. Minnegal, ‘On Reading Patrol Reports – 3:

Burnett River People’, The Journal of Pacific History, 2019, p. 12, Taylor and Francis Online [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[23] Ibid, p. ii.

[24] Australian School of Pacific Administration, Handbook of the Australian School of Pacific Administration, 1952, p. 29, Trove[online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[25] Ibid, p. 20

[26] Jinks, ‘Australia’s Post-War Policy for New Guinea and Papua’, p. 89.

[27] B. Lambert, ‘Robert Glasse, 63, An Anthropologist in New Guinea, Dies’, The New York Times, 6 January 1993, para. 5, <https://www.nytimes.com/1993/01/06/nyregion/robert-glasse-63-an-anthropologist-in-new-guinea-dies.html>, accessed 28 September 2020.

[28] A. Strathern, ‘Looking Backward and Forward’, chapter in T.E. Hays, (ed.), Ethnographic Presents: Pioneering Anthropologists in the Papua New Guinea Highlands, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1992, pp. 252, EBSCOhost [online database], accessed 28 September 2020.

[29] Jensen-Muir, Tari Patrol no. 1 of 1958/59, p. 12.

[30] Kituai, ‘The Role of the Patrol Officer in Papua New Guinea’, p. 36.

[31] Ibid.

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