Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Mapping has been an important aspect of my research as I come to understand the differential impact that labor opportunities with a nearby industrial gold mine has on subsistence gardening. Over the course of five research trips I have used GIS to map out the area and location of each garden in two different villages, the position of households, as well as the many paths that individuals take to arrive at these locations. At the same time, mapping seems counter to how Biangai (Morobe Province, Papua New Guinea) understand and engage with the same places. This is not to suggest some romanticized vision of communal spaces or a misunderstanding about the potential or role of maps in contemporary political and ecological relationships. Biangai are well versed in maps, as they are associated with development, government land registration practices, smallholder gold leases, etc. Instead, the sorts of specific garden maps that my research entails exists somewhere between knowing the land through family stories, kinship and song, and the grand scales of development. In this paper I examine this liminal space of mapping, where each agricultural space that is plotted, likewise maps social relationships that are mediated by garden spaces. While the product provided some useful information for about changing labor patterns under the shadow of an industrial gold mine, the discussion around mapping revealed a more significant dynamic around the negotiations of kinship and belonging.