Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea

Academic journal article Electronic Green Journal

Review: Conservation Is Our Government Now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea

Article excerpt

Review: Conservation is Our Government now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea By Paige West Reviewed by Elery Hamilton-Smith Charles Sturt University, Australia West, Paige. Conservation is Our Government now: The Politics of Ecology in Papua New Guinea. Durham: Duke University Press, 2006. 320 pp. ISBN 0-8223-3748-5. $22.95 (pbk).

Recently a colleague from a conservation organization said to me, "We find it very difficult to communicate with and understand the people of Papua New Guinea." I could only respond, "The people of Papua New Guinea find it very difficult to communicate with and understand your bureaucratic euphemisms."

Paige West has taken the time and developed the sensitivity to genuinely understand and communicate with the people of Maimafu - a settlement in the South-Eastern Highlands. She commences her book by discussing the extent to which Maimafu is not truly a single, timeless Papuan village, but a place created by tidy-minded colonists who gave the name to a mountain space with a number of small settlements. Both the inhabitants and the colonists, followed by generations of neo-colonialists, have since given that place its contemporary and still-changing culture.

She focuses upon the relationships between the people of Maimafu and a particularly well meaning but naive international conservationist organization. Not surprisingly, both end by being deeply disappointed by the results, or perhaps more accurately, the non-results of their interaction. …

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