Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Within the resource frontier of the Purari Delta maps have become a defining feature of the legibility of property relations for the Papua New Guinean Nation State and multinational companies in the context of logging and natural gas extraction. In these contexts maps are redefining the present and futures of communities as kin groups are pitted against one another to locate the resource owners. These official maps, however, are not the only renderings of space and time that circulate and inscribe relations. Other forms - photocopies of historical maps, GIS informed maps on paper and in computers and a variety of vernacular forms – are also being deployed by community members. These maps create overlapping and conflicting visions of the relations envisioned for the region. They also open up other ways for rendering the histories that reside in the Delta, its people and in their utterances. In this paper, I explore the dissonance between these various maps, the strategies for their deployment over the last 20 years and the transforming media ideologies that they materialize for Purari speakers. Doing so I outline how these technologies are reshaping the knowledge that these maps render visible and local understandings of the intersecting histories of property relations in the Delta.