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Athabasca University

Papua New Guinea: Then and Now

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


Day One - Thursday 11th July

9.00am: His Excellency Renagi Lohia CBE: Opening Address
9.15-9.30am: Hon. Bill Morrison AO: 'Decolonisation - Role Reversal'

9.45am-1.00pm: Session 1 - CULTURAL INSTITUTIONS

The period of decolonisation and Independence saw the establishment of an array of specifically cultural institutions - the University of PNG, the Literature Bureau, the National Theatre, the Christian Training Centre, Institute for Papua New Guinea Studies, National Library, Raun Raun Theatre, the National Broadcasting Commission, Creative Centre for the Arts, National Archives, National Museum, National Arts School, among others. Some of these institutions were established as temporary homes for the activities of nation-building and were discontinued after Independence. Some have faltered for lack of support, or have been merged into other institutions. Some have managed to re-invent themselves for a new cultural and political context. This session will reflect on the objectives and assessments of these institutions at the time in the development of national consciousness and the promotion and engagement of Papua New Guineans in cultural production. It will also reflect on their current state and situation in the cultural politics of contemporary PNG.

Moderator: Hon. Hal Wootten AC QC

Part 1:

Professor Donald Denoon: 'Paternalism and Miss Levau'

Professor Ted Wolfers: 'Decolonisation and PNG's Home-Grown Constitution: Reflections on Relations Between Nation, State and Society in Melanesia'

Nancy Lutton: 'Building a Documentary Heritage in an Oral Culture'

John Waiko: 'A Rebel in the Land of the Unexpected, 1970-1983'

10.30-11.00am: Morning Tea

Part 2:

Dr Brian Egloff & Dr Polly Wiessner: 'The Ambum Stone: From Tumbuna to Treasure'

Deveni Temu: 'Libraries, National Identity and Decolonisation in PNG: Personal Reflections'

Professor Ken McKinnon: 'Culture in Education in the 1960s and 1970s'

Dr Michael Mel: 'Ples Bilong Mi: Tensions and Visions in Mapping a National Identity in PNG Through Education'

Fr Paul Duffy: 'Institutional Weakening: Art and AID in PNG'

2.00-5.30pm: Session 2 - VISUAL AND PERFORMING ARTS

Using pidgin and building on traditional cultural forms, drama was arguably the widest-reaching of all art forms during decolonisation and Independence. Broadcasts on the NBC and live performance by many theatre companies throughout the country meant that drama was a key element in the discussion of social and cultural identities. lthough music did not play as prominent a role during the decolonization period as drama, it has grown to be a commercially popular and viable field of cultural production. In fact, music - whether traditional, or church choir, or rock band, has probably the broadest audience of any cultural form in Papua New Guinea today. From the Dept. of Territories sponsored films of Maslyn Williams, through the thoughtful and provocative films of Bob Connolly and Robin Anderson, Gary Kildea and many others, images of Papua New Guinea have played an important role in the creation and development of the nation. This session will reflect on the foundation of these cultural forms, their role during the period of decolonization and Independence and their current position.

Moderator & Introduction:
Marj Walker: 'Expressive Arts at Sogeri National High School' Art

Hal Holman: 'Manmeri i Wokim Samting i Nais Moa' Music

Dr Denis Crowdy: 'Music at UPNG in the 1990s: PNG Contemporary vs. Lokal'

Dr Michael Webb: 'Researching and Writing a Tolai Socio-musical History in the 1990s'

3.30-4.00pm: Afternoon Tea

Drama & Film

Nora Brash: 'Which Way Now Drama?'

William Takaku: 'The Negative Growth of PNG Theatre and Culture After Independence'

Les McLaren: 'Reflections of PNG Music and Film from 1970' Performance: Peter Trist

5.30-7pm: Wine and cheese reception


Day Two - Friday 12th July

9.30 - 9.45 am: Introduction to Day Two
Sir Paulias Matane Kt, CMG, OBE: 'The Rape and Destruction of PNG Cultures and Traditions by Foreign Influences'

10.00am-1.00pm: Session 3 - LITERATURE AND PUBLISHING

Writing was encouraged by educational institutions, the missions and the colonial administration in the period leading up to and following Independence as a means of cultural expression and formation of national identity. In particular it was used as a way of trying to articulate the specificity of village experience into a sense of national consciousness. Since Independence, the writing and reading of creative literature in PNG has been plagued by many problems, not the least of which are ambivalence on the part of authorities about the role of print literature in nation-building and self-deprecation on the part of the potential national reading public. The old questions of what the use of print literature is and who would want to read a home-grown product anyway confronts the writers and publishers of PNG as they do in all former colonies. But specific problems face writers and publishers in PNG as well. How have these cultural workers dealt with the changing conditions over the years? What is the state of the art now? And what is the prognosis for the future? This session will reflect on the implications of the inheritance of decolonisation for a new generation of writers and publishers within an environment that no longer promotes the connection between written texts and national identity.

Moderator: Dr Paul Sharrad

Roger Boschman: 'Cultivating Literature at the Grassroots Level'

Dr Prithvindra Chakravarti:'The UPNG Creative Writing Program and Emergence of Papua New Guinea Literature'

Dr Greg Murphy: 'Writers and the Nation in PNG: Literature, Culture and Decolonisation'

10.45-11.15 am Morning Tea

Dave Kelly: 'The Education Department as a Market for Literature'

Dr Regis Stella: 'Writers in Post-Independence PNG: Some Troubled Homecomings'

Dr Stephen Winduo: 'From Papua Pocket Poets (PPP) to Flames Publications (FPP): Deferred Dreams in PNG Literary Culture'
Trevor Shearston: 'Trying to Make Sense of it All'

Yauka Liria: 'The Experience of a Self-Taught and Self-Inspired Writer in PNG: 1990-2002'

2.00-3.15pm: Session 4 - JOURNALISM, PRINT AND BROADCAST

PNG has had a strong tradition of journalism, both print and broadcast. Whether administration- or mission-sponsored, whether owned and operated by national or international organizations, newspapers and radio broadcasts have been and remain crucial to the articulation of political and social processes in Papua New Guinea. Through public expositions of planning and policy-making, broadcast and publication of cultural texts, letters to the editor, talk shows and in a multi-lingual context, journalistic venues have provided a key public forum for the establishment of a sense of national-self. This session will reflect both on the origins and development of a specifically PNG journalism as well as on the current role of newspapers and radio in a period of on-going crisis of the state.

Moderator: Chris Ashton Broadcast Journalism

Keith Jackson: 'Collision of Values: Events Surrounding the Establishment of the National Broadcasting Commission in 1973' Print Journalism

Jim Huxley: 'Training PNG Nationals for Tok Tok'

Gus Smales: 'An Alien Concept: How Papua New Guinea Inherited a Free Press'

Anna Solomon: 'The Media - Uniting a Diverse Nation'

3.15-3.45pm: Afternoon Tea

Final Word:
Neil MacLean - Donald Denoon - Michael Mel

Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services