Searching for fish names with the Vula'a of Papua New Guinea

Deborah Van Heekeren*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)


This article describes an ethnographic project initiated by a group of people in Irupara village, Papua New Guinea (PNG), who for a period between 2001 and 2010 self-identified as ‘historians’. At the forefront of the group’s concerns was a younger generation unfamiliar with the local language names of fish and fishing techniques. I document the collaborative project developed to address a situation perceived as a loss of language, culture, and identity. As well as providing a valuable lexicon in an Austronesian language, the research brings to light important distinctions between recording ‘history’ and ways of recalling and expressing the past commonly referred to as ‘historicity’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)605-629
Number of pages25
JournalHistory and Anthropology
Issue number5
Early online date2 May 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Fish Names
  • Historicity
  • Language
  • Oral History
  • Papua New Guinea

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