Review: From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea

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Review: From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea By Paige West Reviewed by: Amy E. Harth Lombard, Illinois, USA West, Paige. From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012. 315pp. ISBN 9780822351504 US $25.95, trade paperback

In From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The Social World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea, Paige West provides a detailed ethnography of the people of Papua New Guinea and their relationship to coffee production. She starts by presenting marketer "Mr. Nebraska" who outlines the supposedly stark contrasts between generations of coffee drinkers (31-8). She then explores the history of Papua New Guinea in relation to coffee. Her examination covers the importance of interactions as relationships in Papua New Guinean coffee production. West then broadens the scope of the examination to discuss expatriates in Papua New Guinea and by discussing the national and international impacts of coffee production. She shows how marketing viewpoints such as Mr. Nebraska's impact coffee consumers in countries such as Germany, England, Australia and the United States.

The author provides rich detail about the people living in Papua New Guinea. She does an excellent job of framing the role of the anthropologist today and addressing the misconceptions about and changes in anthropology in recent decades (181). While the book's scope is broad in that the impact of coffee production on Papua New Guinea must take into account the interconnectedness of coffee drinkers and producers around the world, the focus is clearly on understanding coffee in the context of Papua New Guinea. Those interested in the marketing of coffee from Papua New Guinea to coffee drinkers in the countries such as the U.S. or England may find the chapter on international coffee of interest; however, the text is clearly intended for those who are knowledgeable about Papua New Guinea and wish to expand their understanding of the impact of coffee on the people. …