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Athabasca University

Key Events

While the PPPM website addresses issues of print culture as a whole, this page provides an outline of key dates and events for the institution of literary culture in Papua New Guinea from the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s; this is a period that witnessed the birth of a new literary culture. The indigenous peoples of Papua and New Guinea had no literary tradition prior to colonialism. Indeed prior to the 1960s, written indigenous texts were rare and associated only with specific journalist-, mission-, or administration-sponsored activities.

In PNG, therefore, the notion of sponsorship is critical to understanding the early phases of literary history. The first writers in PNG tended to be high school, college and university students; public servants; or employees of missions and churches. Their print-related activities were encouraged and made possible by the institutions with which they were associated. As a result, the fate of literature prior to independence was fundamentally linked to the viability of programs sponsored by those institutions and to the relationships forged between its field agents and the new writers.

The outline provided below is intended to indicate key moments when participation in and sponsorship of literary life in PNG either began, or experienced a significant change. The outline is colour-coded according to sponsored centres of literary activity: orange for the Missions, blue for the University, and yellow for the Administration (and later the independent Government). Important events that do not clearly fall within the purview of the three main areas of literary production are displayed in black.

Note that the colour-coding is meant as a general indicator of activity and affiliation and thus obscures the fact that several participants in PNG literary life during this period moved from one area of sponsorship to another:

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Updated October 13 2016 by Library Services