Anthropology and Environment Society
Oral Presentation Session
Under Papua New Guinea’s national mining act, resource development projects must perform social mapping exercises to determine the official landowners associated with the project in order to document who should rightfully receive royalties, compensation fees, and other benefits. As numerous scholars have highlighted, customary social organization and land tenure norms are highly flexible throughout much of highlands Papua New Guinea. The universalizing and rigidifying aspects of contemporary state and corporate mapping exercises simplify these contingent, flexible, and negotiable customary processes to render them legible for development purposes. Such mapping exercises have created a landscape of vast inequalities with some groups receiving millions of dollars in benefits while neighboring groups receive nothing. In this paper, I examine the afterlife of development-based social mapping around the Porgera Gold Mine, which has resulted in a series of deadly tribal conflicts related to uneven development woes where thousands of people have been displaced and homes and property reduced to burned ruins. In addition to mapping ruin, I also explore a GIS of kinship networks to understand the social and geographical linkages that refugees utilize to flee from conflict. The data herein stress the struggles over producing space, property, and social geographies in state versus non-state formations.