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Athabasca University

Conference Poster

Critical Reflections of Cultural Decolonisation and Nationalism
11th & 12th July, 2002, Women's College, University of Sydney

Gigs Wena, Papua New Guinea: Half/half woman (1999)

Confirmed speakers:
H.E. Renagi Lohia, Nora Vagi Brash, Dr. Regis Stella, Dr. Greg Murphy, Peter Trist, Sir Paulias Matane, Nancy Lutton, Fr. Paul Duffy, Professor Donald Denoon, Steve Winduo, Michael Mel, Anna Solomon, Hal Wooten QC, Trevor Shearston, Ted Wolfers, Donald Denoon

Draft Programme Speaker Information
Registration form Venue & Accommodation Information

From the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s, Papua New Guinea underwent a frenetic rush to decolonise. During that 20 year blizzard of activity, the administration attempted to transfer the institutions and technologies of civil society to the colony and an emerging PNG élite struggled to bend that process to form a distinctively PNG nation.

What lessons can we draw from this simultaneous attempt to both actualize and assimilate? Questions of empowerment and appropriation remain with us; indeed their relevance seems to increase daily.

A quarter of a century after PNG's Independence, people from "then and now" will gather together at this conference in order to evaluate what was probably the shortest and most intense period of decolonisation in the twentieth century.

Writers, teachers, academics, journalists, aid workers, historians, political scientists, and administrators will be among those assessing decolonisation in Papua New Guinea.

From the experiences of those who were there, we will explore these questions:

Did you have a coherent vision of culture and nation? What did you want? What did you want to avoid?

Which models, examples, and influences were you exposed to and which did you choose? Were you making a new way, or trying to learn an old way?

Who did you see as allies? Who were antagonists? Which institutions were helpful, and which got in the way?

What was it like to suddenly own the institutions? What opportunities arose? What problems?

What sustains you from that time? In what ways have you moved on?

These issues will be particularly addressed from the perspective of these areas:

  • writing and journalism
  • broadcasting and publishing
  • the visual and performing arts
  • the development and functioning of cultural institutions
  • the technologies of culture
  • the relations between politics and culture

To the reflections of the protagonists of decolonisation, a new generation of writers, teachers, academics, journalists, aid workers, historians, political scientists, administrators and others will add their insights.

Hosted by the Research Institute for Humanities and Social Sciences, and supported by the Nations, Citizenship, Cultures Research Cluster, University of Sydney.

Organising Committee:

Evelyn Ellerman (Visiting Scholar, RIHSS)

Drusilla Modjeska (Senior ARC Research Fellow, RIHSS)

Neil Maclean (Anthropology, Sydney)

Patrick Ferry (Economic History, Sydney)

Margaret Harris (Director, RIHSS)

Rowanne Couch (Research Manager, RIHSS)

Natalya Lusty (Administrative Assistant, RIHSS)

Contact details for registrations/ enquiries:


Phone: (02) 9351 5100

Fax: (02) 9351 5700

Mail: PNG Conference, RIHSS Woolley Building A20 University of Sydney NSW 2006

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Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services