From trading canoes to 'village citizen': the place of Vula'a identity

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The Vula’a people have occupied a region nowadays known as the Hood Point area, on the south eastern coast of the Central Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG), for more than two hundred years. Their proximity to Port Moresby, the national capital, and a century and a quarter of Christian influence has meant that Vula’a experience of that which is generally described as ‘social change’ has been relatively long term. It is different from that which has recently been documented for the Highlands of PNG, where contact has been much more recent. The connection between Vula’a people living and working in town and those living in the villages is a taken-for-granted dimension of kin relations, and Christianity has been incorporated into local understanding of ‘tradition’. Rather than seeing Vula’a history and ethnography in terms of social change, in the paper I explore the continuities and transformations that have occurred in terms of identity – a perspective which draws on Heideggerian philosophy and, following Edward S. Casey, suggests that place is at the centre of lived experience. In this sense the village is more than the place where one comes from or returns to, it is a container of identity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)209-230
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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