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Fenced in: intimacy and mobility in Highlands Papua New Guinea.

This paper examines the dialectical relationship between business as an expansive profit oriented project on the one hand, and its anchoring in clan defined space on the other. I will argue that the shared capacity of the entrepreneurial subjects of business for a domestically grounded intimacy mediates the intersubjective (Jackson 1996, 1998) dynamics of this contradictory relationship. Business leaders manage the political aspects of this tension through the control they exercise over mobility within the Jimi Valley and between the Jimi and the economic core areas of the Wahgi Valley and Mt. Hagen. In part they are able to do this because of the aspirations and desires associated with this mobility (See Maclean 1994). I focus in this article, however, on the unfolding dynamic of a particular truck trip in 1991, from the Jimi to the Wahgi, to demonstrate the mutual implication of such control over mobility and a masculine capacity for intimacy. Wardlow has noted in her influential study of imminent possessive individualism among Huli women that pasinja meri are considered unimportant in that they are 'merely passengers not the driver' (Wardlow 2006: 141). This paper takes up the other side of this equation, examining the self-conscious and often defensive masculinity of Jimi 'drivers' as a transformation of an established ethic of mutuality, rather than its elision.

I have taken the view in this paper that an argument focussing on a specific event needs to be explicitly historically and methodologically framed. Historically I have situated the distinctively anxious quality of this trip within a description of the evacuation of a coherent state presence from the Jimi Valley over the 1980s and an appreciation of the failure of the would-be civil-society legacy of Australian colonialism. I argue that the peculiar mix of the expansionary and defensive dynamics of business have to be understood in relation to this void.

Methodologically I treat the question that provoked this paper as arising from two aspects of the experience of long-term fieldwork. On the one hand the question was put to me because of my integration into the 'insider' dynamics of the truck trip, built in turn on my own socialisation into Maring intimacy (see also Maclean 2012). On the other hand, the question had its impact because of the radical disruption of my relationship to the Jimi Valley as 'civic' space. In analysing the intersubjective dynamics of the event I draw on Schutz's critical appreciation of the imperative towards the synchronisation of streams of consciousness in face-to-face relationships, and of its limits (Schutz 1972: 164-172). In appreciating the sedimenting effects of long-term fieldwork I draw on Schutz's discussion of 'meaning context' (Schutz 1972: 75). I take this as an opportunity to reflect, not just on long-term fieldwork, but on error in fieldwork.


In October 1991 I returned to Kwima in the Jimi Valley after an absence of four years to find the landscape of modernity rearranged,l On the one hand, what had been a small but promising enterprise, had grown into a diverse business through which its majority owner, Clement, dominated public life in Kwima, and played a key role in the regional economy of the valley (see Maclean 1994). On the other, the range of services available in the District Office at Tabibuga had become increasingly unpredictable, or disappeared entirely. Having to do some banking, I cadged a lift from Clement who was sending a truck to sell coffee and buy stock in the Wahgi Valley, the 'metropole' to the Jimi periphery. We had left late anyway, had to refill an overheated radiator at a creek, and then it started raining on the bags of parchment coffee as we drove into Tabibuga. The rain threatened to ruin the coffee and it also looked like it might be getting dark driving over the Sepik-Wahgi Divide that separates the Jimi and Wahgi Valleys. As this is an area chronically subject to banditry, we decided to stay the night above the Tabibuga station at Lopme, a fenced trade-store compound that Clement had a major share in. At dusk the gates to the compound were locked.

The evening culminated in the dim but fluorescent-lit store office with a conversation that fixed the events of the day in my imagination. My travelling companions were fascinated with the, then, new two Kina (K2) note. (2) I was asked if local people might possibly have made these new notes. A little stunned, I asked for more information. My companions told of Jimi based Mating speakers, travelling in the Kumbruf (see Fig. 4) area, who claimed to have come across a decaying ritual/men's house in which both K2 notes and K1 coins were stored. The travellers stole some of the money and made their way back to the Jimi as fast as possible, but were followed by a wild storm that destroyed gardens as it pursued them. The theft was discovered and the men were forced to return the stolen money and pay K1000 and 5 pigs in compensation for the destruction caused by the storm. My companions claimed that a Kwima storekeeper had some of the K1 coins passed off on him, which he only later noticed were different. They also told me that, when I used one of the new K2 notes with the 'clear window' insert at a Kwima store, people speculated this might be one of the Kobana (Jimi name for those living on the Kumbruf side of the Bismarck Range) notes. The theme of ancestral magical power runs through this story. For my companions such magic protects the ritual house and the souls of the clan that made it and was almost certainly the cause of the storm that pursued the men. The question was, could such power enable people to make money?

I was stunned because my experience until then had been of remarkably pragmatic public development rhetoric and of highly instrumental questions put to myself. This 'question' (3) broke with that pragmatic search for a connection to a development that lay elsewhere in two ways. Firstly it proposed that ancestral knowledge (nomane, Mating) might be drawn on to make wealth, providing an autochthonous foundation for development. (4) Secondly, it reversed the geography of modernity. Even as we were on our way to the metropole on business the story proposed that a new capacity to make money lay on the periphery. (5)


One cause of this rhetorical reversal of the geography of modernity lies with the dismantling during the 1980s of the nexus between business and the state that was produced by the initial energy of independence and which the Maring apprehended as development (Maclean 1985a). I have elsewhere argued (Maclean 1994, 2010) that, by the 1960s, the Australian colonial administration sought to cultivate civic space, even as it remained profoundly anxious about movement within that space. I use the term civic, more commonly associated with an urban imaginary and with a civil society 'outside the direct, regular control of governments or large corporations' (Lewinson 2007: 200), because the forms of hope implied directly reflect those colonial ambitions:

Cities and their geographical spaces carry the promise of open access, of community, of cultural enrichment, and ultimately of democracy, for if all people have access to those spaces and can participate in urban society through presence in common terrain, then those spaces are realms for democracy. (Lewinson 2007: 199-200)

The colonial administration planned to make such a space through the construction of roads (Maclean 1994, 2010) and to both encourage and compel a sense of citizenship through instituting taxation (Maclean 2010). From the beginning, corvee labour was the basis of the development of colonial infrastructure. In 1966, this power was linked to that of the head tax with the institution of Jimi Local Government Council. Each functioned as a 'point of application' (Scott 2005: 30) of colonial governmentality intended to both extend the administrative penetration of local society and to have a civic impact on 'colonial conduct' (2005: 35) through the 'systematic redefinition and transformation of the terrain on which the life of the colonized was lived' (2005: 36). The administration intended to both compel and enable the mobility of people and things that underpins participation in a cash economy. Roads were the arteries of this civic body, but it was the district office at Tabibuga, and its 'station', at the heart of the Jimi, that came to stand for the mutuality of administration on the one hand and market society on the other.

While the terrain on which life is lived has been significantly transformed, the failure of this civic project is a recurrent theme of the recent ethnography and politics of Papua New Guinea. (6) The 'question' with which I opened this paper speaks to that faltering legacy of colonial governance. However, it is important to embed that event in a history that recognizes the magnetic significance of Tabibuga as the local instantiation of civic and development hope during my first period of fieldwork in 1979/80. (7) Only from that perspective can we interpret the force of the evacuation of that centre by the end of 1991.

Below is a list (see them mapped in Fig. 1) of the facilities available in Tabibuga in 1979, well before the Lopme store was built:

* A functioning airstrip.

* Namasu store--a PNG wide trading company founded by the Lutheran Church.

* Ted Kennedy store--White Australian entrepreneur with interests in the Wahgi and the Jimi, married to a Tabibuga woman.

* Jimi Earthmoving, a joint venture of Ted Kennedy and the Local Government Council, with substantial contracts in the Wahgi Valley.

* The Local Government Council (LGC) Offices--still the forum of regular meetings and with substantial tax resources that gave control over decisions about road building and maintenance in the Jimi.

* A store identified with the prominent local Member of Parliament Thomas Kavali.

* A District Office with a still functioning Bank agency.

* An occasionally functioning Public Servants Club.

* A regular Saturday market.

* A store owned by a Morokai business group.

* A coffee factory joint venture between local landowners, Ted Kennedy and Thomas Kavali (outside the boundaries of the station).

1979 was probably the height of the importance of Tabibuga as a centre, and even then there were signs of many of these businesses falling apart. Nevertheless, in the coffee flush it was a hive of activity. Groups of men and women walked from the northern wall of the Jimi Valley into Tabibuga with coffee to sell, and returned laden with stock for trade stores and goods to provision feasts and bridewealth exchanges. The varied profile of store-ownership, the coffee factory and the earth-moving company all convey a strong sense of a national market economy with a presence, and interest, in the Jimi. The Local Government Council, in turn, stood for that intersection of participation in the market economy and government that people understood as 'development'.

The contrast with 1991 is stark (see Fig. 2):

Every single business operational in 1979 had closed and none opened in their place. While still technically operational, the LGC had no tax revenues to disperse and had lost any control over road decision-making. The bank agency at the District Office was long since closed and the airstrip given over to grass. (8) As a consequence commerce and access to services had become increasingly dependent on truck (or foot for the brave or desperate) trips to the Wahgi Valley. Rather than being a site of development, the Jimi Valley had become a terrain that had to be negotiated to reach it.

In the opening vignette I described Lopme, where we stayed overnight, as fenced, gated, and locked at dusk. The two-metre pit-pit fence that surrounded Lopme was concrete evidence of the changing micro-politics of stores that mirrored this broader evacuation of the civic. Such pit-pit walls are not characteristic of hamlet fences in the Jimi. Generally they are built with horizontal planks and uprights, are about one metre high, are primarily designed to keep in/out pigs; humans climb in and out using stiles. I saw no pit-pit walls in 1979/80 and only around business compounds in 1991/92. In 1979/80, stores lay in the public domain. They were certainly locked at night, and subject to theft, but were rarely incorporated into hamlets. Rather, they faced directly on to roads or were built on the central political and public space of clan and clan cluster ceremonial grounds. Then I analysed stores as spatial instantiations of an ideology of development that conflated the business and civic dimensions of development with an explicit commitment to a public space (Maclean 1985a). (9) At the time, such a commitment by store-owners only made sense in relationship to the broader civic potential represented in Tabibuga itself. By 1991, the security fence and the locked gate represented a new kind of continuity with a national context in which the cyclone fence, razor wire and security guards have come to define urban space. In the next section I unpack the inside of Lopme, and the intersubjective dynamics of my evening there, as a perspective on this evacuation of the civic and the spatial practices (see Lefebvre 1991: 38) of mobility that correspond to it.


As civic space was evacuated, the kinship based forms of insider sociality that the colonial administration attempted to render private emerged as a new basis for mobility. The distinction between inside and outside is a thread that runs through Mating political rhetoric, situational definitions of identity, and the intersubjective contexts of the self that I will be treating in terms of a habitus (Bourdieu 1990) of intimacy. (10) The distinction can operate across a wide range of social scale: as a loose metaphor for the regional interests of the Jimi Valley within the nation of Papua New Guinea; as a compelling rhetoric of the moral and political unity of the clan-cluster, the highest stable level of Mating social structure; as a recognition of the relative autonomy of the domestic interests of the hamlet. (11) For the purposes of this article the best indication of the quality of insiderness I am referring to would be at the level of a sub-clan, typically of some 30--50 people, maybe ten of whom would be adult men. These men expect to share food and talk, and discuss common interests such as bridewealth and compensation claims. They make a clear distinction between the kind of talk that goes on 'inside' and the public presentation of self. The fence (ka in Maring) is a key symbol of this insiderness and the primary referent is the hamlet fence. Mating hamlets are domestic spaces in which the key differentiation is between a single men's house and as many women's houses as there are married women. In 1979 45% of hamlets were occupied by a single married man and his wife/wives and children, and in some cases his widowed mother. A further 20% contained the families of two married men. Hamlets with only women's houses made up a further 25 %. The Maring phrase ka amangke (lit. inside the fence) both references the relative autonomy of the domestic group (see Maclean 1985b) and is most commonly used to make claims on the moral unity of the sub-clan, the clan and the clan-cluster. The extension of this claim is not simply rhetorical. Maring show a recurrent tendency to consolidate sub-clan, and even clan, settlements within a continuous fence, with internal fences and stiles marking out domestic space. Where sub-clan hamlets are separated by bush any sense of isolation, or that the separation is too great, may be subject to moral commentary as a threat to the unity of those who should be inside. Equally sub-clan members visited each other in their hamlets as a matter of obligation; they don't wait to be invited but rather proactively claim the right (see Maclean 2012: 580-582). For the Maring, then, the fence that surrounds the hamlet and the garden serves to foreground a specific domestic identity against the assumed background of the ancestral whole.

In the following discussion I will be treating both the truck, and the

walled compound at Lopme, as instantiations of an insider sociality, that draw on this kinship habitus, but which are now reconstituted on the basis of business. I have already introduced the uninhabited areas on the top of the Sepik-Wahgi divide, the range dividing the Jimi and Wahgi valleys, as places where trucks (and those on foot) were peculiarly vulnerable to bandit attack. As a consequence truck trips had become dependent on three systems of relationships: a group of inside men travelling in the back of the truck (often with axes and bows and arrows discreetly available); a network of relationships between owners/drivers as a basis for the organization of convoys; a network of connections to homesteads or compounds at strategic points on the road and in the Wahgi Valley where the truck might stay in the event of breakdown, darkness or rain.

The truck I was travelling in was owned by Clement, the leading business figure in Kwima. He was also a major player in a network of business relationships that spanned the Jimi valley with connections south to Banz in the Wahgi and north over the Bismarcks into the Simbai. Buka, the driver of the truck on this occasion, ran a business in a settlement neighbouring Kwima (Dega), and was part of that network. The inside men of the truck were Eric, Jim, and Justin. Eric was employed by Clement as a driver after a return to the Jimi from many years working on the coast. He was originally from Kwima's other neighbours (and sometime enemies) the Manamban (Kupeng). Jim was the eldest son of the Kwima Councillor, a resident of my hamlet, and had spent four years at High School in Mt. Hagen. Justin is a classificatory cross-cousin of Clement's.

Lopme is a walled compound of some 11 buildings and a garden area (see Fig. 3). It is home to a joint venture between Clement's Kwima based business group, Yaraka, and Matthew Tsaina, a Morokai. Yaraka is an acronym formed from the first two letters of three of the eight clans making up the clan-cluster settled around Kwima, Yamakai, Raweng, and Kandakai. (12) The Morokai own the land on which Lopme, and the Tabibuga station below it, are built. Matthew links the business network to the land on which Lopme is built and validates its claim to be there. (13) Within the compound both major managing partners in the business have houses as well as close relatives of Matthew and one senior employee (Karabus). Clement's house acts as a waystation for Kwima men travelling back and forth between Banz and Kwima. The security of the compound supports a core business operation, the store, the trucks vital to the viability of the business, and a number of smaller, individually owned businesses such as the second hand store and the cigarette store.

It was late afternoon when Clement's truck arrived at Lopme. The store was still open for business and a number of local Morokai women were sitting in the cleared area immediately inside the gate. In the Jimi people take their time making purchases, are inclined to buy things one at a time, and like to hang around the store watching the comings and goings and purchases of others. Over time I have formed the view that three factors contribute to this distinctive stasis: purchasers like to maximise the satisfaction of the transaction itself; it allows for an implied framing of the monetary transaction by the social relationship between store owner and customer; it implies a claim on the place on which the store is built. Store-owners characteristically cut across the implied claims on person and place with signs announcing that no purchases can be made on credit (dinau). On this occasion my fellow passengers were more abrasive. As dusk approached they announced loudly that it was time to close the gate and made insistent calls for the women to be hustled out. Particularly striking to me, they asserted a number of times that this was a Kwima place and that it was time for those who did not belong to leave. A sign in the store office, displaying the Yaraka Business Group logo and an explanation, reinforced the claim that Lopme is a Kwima place:

   Mining bilong Yaraka em I as [origin/ground] bilong wanem samting.
   Husat man meri I no save long mining bilong Yaraka bisnis grup em I
   tripela lain haus man bung wantaim (Yaraka), Yamakai, Raweng,
   Kandkai. Em I mining bilong Yaraka I stap ples klina [sic] wan. Em
   Yarak i stap 100 yias plen.

   [Yaraka is the origin many things. Whoever doesn't understand the
   significance of Yaraka business group it is three clans joined
   together, Yamakai, Raweng, Kandkai. That is the significance of
   Yaraka for all to see. Yaraka is on a 100-year plan.]

If the Lopme compound is a Kwima place, then it is a very peculiar one and much turns on the meaning of the word 'as' (origin/ground) in the notice above. Only two of my fellow passengers (Jim and Justin) were Kwima men and only Justin identified with a Yaraka clan (see Fig. 4). Eric's clan-cluster of origin (Manamban) has a long-standing history of enmity with the Yaraka clans in particular. Buka, the driver, comes from a clan-cluster with a sporadic history of raiding and warfare in relation to Jim's clan, the Bomagai. Clement himself is a refugee from a Simbai Valley cluster having spent time in jail for murdering his brother. It was in jail that he learnt the trade (carpentry) that enabled him to build the social network and save the capital that underpin his business. All of these men had spent a considerable time away from their homes working or in school.

Yaraka, then, does not circumscribe the network that is the organisational basis of the day-to-day operations of the business, of which the group I was travelling with was one instantiation. Rather, Yaraka provides a secure claim to place from which the business as network, and as extension out into the world, can be built.

If the composition of this contingent grouping, so energetically claiming insider status to their 'as' [origin/ground], is distinctive, so is the relationship of the Lopme compound as a spatial inside to its immediate outside. In one sense the internal constitution of the Lopme compound is that of a hamlet. The juxtaposition of men's houses and 'family' houses, which would function primarily as women's houses, is characteristic of hamlet domestic organization in the area. But, whereas a hamlet's fence is porous, a claim on space within an encompassing kinship continuum, Lopme is at odds with its Morokai outside. Whereas hamlets, for all their variation, are replications of domesticity, Lopme is a business, and its domestic organisation is derivative of that fact. This makes it a potential target of envy and attack by its immediate neighbours. So, if Lopme is a Kwima place, then a potentially hostile terrain encompasses it. It is the residential analog of the truck: an inside whose boundaries require continual policing.

A warning here: it would be easy to slip into reading this tension as a contradiction between the privatising tendencies of a market economy versus the relational properties of the kinship domain. Understood in this way, Mating insiderness loses its specificity to simply become one instance of a relational kinship geography; an example of the reduction of kinship to Gemeinschaft that Stasch (2009) has subjected to sustained critique. (14) As if to dramatise the specific continuity of Maring clan space Stasch describes the Korowai house as a concrete image of his argument for 'patterns of separation' (2009: 4):

   Most Korowai houses stand with their floors about fifteen feet
   above the ground, supported by topped tree trunks. This remarkable
   architecture is itself a gesture of separation, dramatically
   setting domestic space apart from the surrounding world ... Even
   more impressive than houses' height, though, is the distance
   between them. (2009: 4)

It is a straightforward matter to add specific instantiations of this dialectic of intimacy and alterity (Stasch 2009) in the Melanesian context. Sturzenhofecker (1998) links the patterns of Duna sorcery accusation to the territorial interdigitation of diverse agnatic identities that she characterises as 'internal externality' (1994: 77). Wassman (1993: 120-1) describes Yupno settlements as domestic compounds enclosed within a clan fence that might be compared to the most consolidated of Maring settlements. However, both clan settlements and domestic compounds are enclosed by a 2 metre high fence of precisely the kind that I have described as alien to the Jimi. The fence around Lopme is not, then, inherently modern. Rather it is modern by virtue of its violation of locally specific relationships between spatiality and morality. I continue the account of the evening at Lopme below, with the aim of describing the intersubjective dynamics inside the business that correspond to this violation.

The claims on insider status at Lopme that began with the closing of the gate, established a discursive theme that ran throughout the evening. Below I examine one strand of this discourse in which these moral and political claims were made particularly explicit. Karabus is a permanent resident of the Lopme hamlet, but joined us for the evening demonstrating the double role played by Clement's house as both Kwima way-station and hamlet men's house. Karabus is originally from Kol in the Eastern end of the Valley, and thus has no direct claim on either Kwima or Morokai ground. (15) His overt claim on Lopme is as truck mechanic to the business but I can't speak to his affinal or maternal connections. During the evening he launched into a sustained piece of moralising about a komiti (lowest level Local Government Council elected representative) from Togban. The Togban people are former major enemies and neighbours of the Kwima people on the northern side of the Jimi, a fact almost certainly not lost on Karabus. Like Kwima people, they are always in need of a waystation in Tabibuga to make the connection to the central Wahgi Valley. The komiti had come to Lopme after dark, when the gates were already closed, claiming a place to sleep.

Karabus asserted that the komiti had behaved badly and had been guilty of making claims to which he had no right. His characteristically masculine moralising combined proclamations on the proper way to act, with detailed commentaries on the actual behaviour of the offender. He condemned the komiti's behaviour in arriving after dark but added the careful proviso that, if he had come during the day and simply hung around until no one could throw him out, that would have been acceptable (if slightly contemptible). As I understood it, such behaviour would have served to make his face known, and would also have acknowledged the need to police the hamlet, in other words an understanding of business. Karabus was then scathing about the basis of his claim to a connection to the hamlet: that he was related by marriage to people staying there on 'pig' (a metaphor for bridewealth) business. I took it that the specification of an affinal claim marked it as tenuous, but largely because 'pig business' was already external to the proper nature of Lopme, which is money business. Once again, the moralising was marked by an 'if' statement about the proper way to behave. As a komiti, in so far as he was part of a wider contemporary valley network, it was not a business but a government network and so he should have sought shelter down at the Tabibuga government station. As we have already seen, this was not a real option and the statement served more to highlight the contemporary decline of government power.

For Mating, the proper action in a context is always linked to an understanding (nomani) of the specificity and history of the social relationships that govern that context. Knowledge of how to act as a member of a clan has in the past been the dominant referent for this quality of the person. Karabus' discourse now marks business as an analogous moral and social domain. To add rhetorical finality to this claim Karabus told how he lay in wait for the komiti at the gate in the morning to tell him off, but he had already left at dawn.

With this 'story' Karabus articulates an etiquette of mobility which sociologically foregrounds the business as network. But he also makes apparent his claim to speak for the hamlet, contrasted with the silence, and thus shame, of the Togban komiti. This shame marks both a lack of a claim to place but also a lack of understanding of business. In the end the komiti was not excluded from the shelter of the hamlet, but he was from the status of insider.


Karabus' rhetoric gained significance, not just from its content, but from the fact that it formed one strand in an aggressively anxious closure of the hamlet as insider space. I have already mentioned the insistence on Lopme as Kwima place, the hustling of women out of the compound and locking of the gate. Karabus' claims also found their audience in a particular kind of intimate mutuality that accompanied this closure. Karabus both affirms and produces that closure through his rhetoric. At the same time, his rhetoric takes effect because his listeners share a distinctive local imperative toward the synchronisation of intersubjective relationships. In a parallel treatment of this event (Maclean 2012) I have analysed the distinctive synchronisation of streams of consciousness (Schutz 1972: 164-172) that arise from the intentional coordination surrounding fire, food, and talk in a Mating men's house context. I argued that in contexts such as this truck trip men drew on a subjective capacity grounded in that everyday experience--in Schutz's terms intimacy as a meaning context (Schutz 1972: 75). In doing so they also brought into play the distinctive political charge of such intimacy in a context defined by continual shifts in the political registers of the inside outside distinction. This was manifest in the claims to knowledge discussed above.

At the same time, I also argued that contexts such as this truck trip represented a transformation of this everyday intimacy, and expanding on that argument is one of the purposes of this article. The break between Lopme and its surrounding environment, represented by the fence, is one index of that transformation. The social heterogeneity of passengers on the truck is another. I have already described the diverse clan and clan-cluster identity of my consociates. These are not men who, within the lifelong time frames of kinship based social systems, have grown old together. This fact gave a particular edge to the sharing of food cooked over a common fire that drew us all into an inward mutual orientation with the closing of the gate. Forty years after the last round of warfare, social relationships in the Jimi are still frequently classified in terms of alliance and enmity, and commensality continues to carry political connotations. Rappaport reported taboos against 'eating food cooked over the same fire or grown in the same garden as that of one's enemy' (1984:111). He explicitly traced one consequence of such taboos:

If natal groups of the wives of brothers become enemies, either the brothers must choose between eating with each other or with their respective wives, or one or both of the wives must refuse to adopt the interdining taboos of her natal group. If a woman refuses to adopt the taboos of her natal group she may no longer dine with them. In any case, dyadic relations, which are heavily loaded both economically and with sentiment, are subjected to rather serious symbolic and behavioural impediments... (Rappaport 1984:111)

These days suspicions of sorcery continue to inflect the sharing of food, and the accompanying often intractable court cases keep the matter at the forefront of consciousness. For these men to eat together in this way was both a risky business--the kind of risk that big men characteristically take--and a statement about a new kind of insider sociality.

Nor had my consociates simply grown old in the Jimi Valley--indeed the life experience they bring to the business is diverse. Jim was a schoolboy of maybe 10 years of age during my first period of fieldwork and spent a significant part of the intervening 10 years at High School in Mt. Hagen. Eric and Buka, while much older, had spent much of the period of the high point of civic and business development in Tabibuga working elsewhere in Papua New Guinea, developing the skills and capital that were the foundation for their current careers in business. Karabus' home was in Kol, administered from Tabibuga, but with nothing like the same dependence on it as a centre of business and resources. In summary, my fellow passengers came from different clan-cluster backgrounds, some previously enemies, and brought very different perspectives on the relationship of the local social field of the Jimi to the broader national context.

In counterpoint to this diversity, what they all brought to this new inside of business, and I count myself into this, was a capacity for intimacy as a sedimented aspect of self: 'embodied history, internalized as a second nature and so tbrgotten as history' (Bourdieu 1990: 56). In Schutz's language this is a meaning context in which the replication of specific structures of domestic and men's house based intimacy over time is 'constituted into a synthesis of a higher order, becoming thereby unified objects of monothetic attention' (Schutz 1972: 75). The advantage of Bourdieu's language for an exploration of the domestic ground of insider sociality is that its intention is to link a set of habits and spatial dispositions to a specific cultural/cosmological field conceived in explicitly historical and political terms. (16) Both Schutz and Bourdieu allow us to attend to the replicability of specific types of experience over time in the formation of the self. Bourdieu also enables us to attend to their replicability across space: the fundamental similarity in the dynamic and context of this kind of insider sociality throughout the Jimi Valley--in a different language, one aspect of what we commonly call culture.

The advantage of Schutz, however, is that he allows us to return to the diversity of those who share this habitus and to the fact that 'far from being homogeneous, the social world is given to us in a complex system of perspectives' (1972: 8). Stasch, for instance, draws on Schutz in his critique of 'Gemeinschafi stereotypy' precisely because Schutz 'emphasizes that subjectivity and intersubjectivity are allochronic as a matter of course' (Stasch 2009: 10). A key feature of the truck trip was the heightened tension between this common capacity for a politically inflected mutuality and the diversity of background and life-experience that had to be coordinated in this instantiation of the habitus. This tension manifests itself in the anxiously aggressive assertion of insider status, and in the explicit policing of that boundary.

Such events suggest two different aspects of a broader social transformation. One can be stated in Schutz's (1972: 176-186) language: the shared capacity for a particular kind of intimacy enables those who in the past would have remained contemporaries, those existing in the same social field but not in face-to-face relationships, to be drawn into new kinds of face-to-face dynamic. Such transformations may, in turn, form the basis of new kinds of social agency. Bourdieu recognizes this double nature of the habitus:

   The habitus is precisely this immanent law, lex insita, inscribed
   in bodies by identical histories, which is the precondition not
   only for the co-ordination of practices but also for practices of
   coordination' (1990: 59).

This speaks directly to my sense that Karabus' policing discourse was both making an inside relation even as it was grounded in his audience's established capacity for such relationships. It allows a more precise account of the coordination of intersubjective relationships in an unstable entrepreneurial context as the emergence of a new kind of business inside. Viewed in this way, the habitus is not simply the product of history but the ground from which historical agency operates. Within the fuller framework of Bourdieu's sociology this transformative potential would most likely be explored in terms of a disjunction between habitus and field (Sweetman 2003: 536; Mouzelis 2007). Such an argument would, however, require the recognition that the 'field' in this case is not uniformly modern. Global markets have certainly had their effect, but the specific politicisation of the habitus I am describing speaks to a very uncertain presence of the modernist legal, political and ethical counterparts to the market.

Schutz in turn describes one key aspect in the ontology of this politicisation of the emergent order of the habitus. He draws a distinction between the 'pure We-relationship' as a 'limiting concept' (Schutz 1972: 163-72; see also Zahavi 2010: 298) and the concrete specificities of any particular 'face-to-face' relationship. His interest in the ontological priority of the We-relationship (it 'is already given to me by the mere fact that I am born into the world of directly experienced social reality' [Schutz 1972: 165]) is as a means of grasping the concrete variety of face to-face relationships--in their intimacy, duration, frequency and multivalence. While the We-relationship remains a moment in any face-to-face relationship,

one cannot become aware of this basic connection between the pure We-relationship and the face-to-face relationship while still a participant in the We-relationship. One must step out of it and examine it [emphasis in original]. (Schutz 1972: 168)

This inherent reflexivity enables the relationship itself to become an intentional object of the kind of rhetorical strategies employed by Karabus. While the disjunction between habitus and field may provide an explanation for the politicisation of that reflexive potential, Schutz allows a recognition that reflexivity is ontologically prior to that disjunction.

My reflexive relationship to the event was, of course, different. My insistent socialisation, over three periods of fieldwork, into various forms of house-based sociality was certainly what allowed my incorporation into this somewhat self-conscious insiderness. What was subjectively salient for me, however, was the closed and defensive quality of the evening that made it unlike previous experiences--the difficulty of assimilating this event to my established 'meaning context' of intimacy. In ordinary hamlet contexts the boundaries of houses are porous, and the inward intentional focus on fire and food is always likely to be cut across by talk with those in other houses and passers by. Even if men and women are in separate houses their chat, arguments and instructions unite the hamlet. On this evening, the synchronisation of fire, food, and talk was sustained and uninflected. (17)

My argument describes a process by which a new kind of inside was defined, not in terms of its origins, but in terms of the twin projects of profit and mobility. In two influential contributions to contemporary debate Wardlow (2006) and Robbins (2004) both explore the dialectics of the individualising effects of modernity (possessive individualism in Wardlow's case, sin in Robbins') within the relational ground of local sociality and identity. Given the focus on business and mobility, my argument resonates most directly with Wardlow's exploration of the figure of the pasinja meri as the embodiment of that dialectic. My focus on masculinity is made particularly clear in the contrasting ways in which my and Wardlow's arguments converge on the image of the fence. I keep returning to the policing of the fence and the inside, Wardlow to the image of brukim banis (jumping the fence, breaking out) (2006: 24, 90, 140) as a metaphor of the modern form of women's negative agency (Wardlow 2006: 72). In breaking the fence Huli pasinja meri experiment with individualism; in policing the fence Jimi business henchmen rework their relational capacities. It may be that, in terms of modernist tropes, it is abstraction rather than individualism that is the unifying process here, as relational capacities become (relatively) detached from a concrete kinship ground.


My participation in this truck trip was not a matter of choice or happenstance; if my fieldwork was to be provisioned I had to be part of such trips. In 1979/80, just as stores encoded a public domain so, as fieldworker, I was able to move around the valley as a relatively autonomous agent. In 1991 I was in the process of discovering that, just as stores were overtly 'inside', so was being part of an 'inside' a condition of my own movement. The structure of my argument so far spells out this connection. I have interpreted the changed status of bisnis as a relationship between three processes: the radical evacuation of civic space, and the development project in the Jimi Valley itself; the development of trans-valley business networks that have come to dominate the pragmatics of mobility in the valley; the elaboration of a more generalisable, masculine, and anxious insiderness. From my point of view there were, in turn, five aspects of the trip that brought those connections into focus: the fence around the compound and the locking of the gate; the quality of participation in the insiderness; the sensation of sitting on the edge of a socio-political vacuum; the complete dependence of the provisioning of my fieldwork on the Yaraka business project; the inversion of the apparently given spatialisation of development in the 'question' with which I opened this paper.

I focus on the intimate relationship between these last two points in the final section of this article. In 1979/80 all provisioning trips required walking to Tabibuga. Then, either I collected mail, used the banking agency and bought provisions at the stores and walked back to Kwima, or I negotiated a ride on to Mt. Hagen, usually with the Council truck. The road above the District Office station, the site of the Lopme store in 1991, was associated with the sensation of being on my way, having negotiated the site of power in Tabibuga. (18) On this truck trip we drove through Tabibuga--it was now simply on the way. And while my companions claimed Lopme as a Kwima place, we were confined within that fence until the truck trip resumed. It was a node rather than a centre.

This is one way that change is registered in the context of recurrent field trips. On returning one slips back into relationships and modes of everyday practice with deceptive ease, only to be confronted by disjunctions of one's established meaning contexts with contemporary practice. This is productive because the temporal discontinuity of fieldwork highlights the contrasts. The issue here, however, is not simply that things have changed. Rather, the impact of this truck-trip forced me to retrospectively reconsider the meaning context of civic space that was integral to my interpretation of my first period of fieldwork.

A few remarks about meaning contexts are in order as a guide to the discussion below. As a means of organising access to one's own stream of experience, meaning contexts synthesize a series of specific experiences into a 'unified' object of 'monothetic attention'(Schutz 1972: 75). They do not simply organize experience, but are linked to projects and to the intersubjective space of pragmatic action involving intentional and emotional orientation to others. (19) As such, they are also part of the way in which we learn about others. The replication of my trips to Tabibuga over the period of my 1979 fieldwork, under the pragmatic imperative of the provisioning of my fieldwork, was fundamental to the organization of my knowledge of the space I traversed. The question I am considering now, however, is of the intersubjective implication of that meaning context in the intentions and emotions of others, and thus of its dual function as both a pragmatic and a learning context.

As I developed this sense of civic space throughout 1979 there was an intimate relationship between its utility and truth-value (for me) as a perspective on the contemporary politics of the Jimi Valley. I was sustained in this view by a recurrent rhetoric of civic objectives as both a legacy of a colonial past and as an anticipated future of government services and development. Government officials, politicians, local and church leaders, all agreed in describing a new space defined by a generalized access to government services and to a developing domain of business, even as they competed for position within it and for the kudos attached to it. Ordinary people, however, also sought to exploit that new space through elaborating strategies based on kin, affinal and other personalized networks. As walking to Tabibuga became routine, they sought to consolidate kin relationships as labour for carrying coffee for sale and trade store goods. They also sought to consolidate networks that included maternal or affinal connections to strategic locations on the road network; most commonly these were important as places to store goods or to sleep in the event of rain or a breakdown in carrying arrangements. Big men and entrepreneurs were key players in these more localized strategies but were also more active in developing the range and directness of their personal networks along the road. Mobility, then, combined the quality of routine movement along the (narrowly) defined civic space of roads, on which people might simply be met as citizens of the Valley, with a careful calculation of the accessibility of nodes of security.

If I privilege the perspective of such practices, the island hopping quality I have described for road travel in 1991 was already incipient in the more overtly civic mobility of 1979/80. By 1991, however, these discursively muted strategies of linking mobility to inside relationships had become the open rhetorical form of a definitely post-colonial development (see also Maclean 1994, 2010). Furthermore, this rhetoric was linked to new forms of distinctively masculine power that were predicated on the evacuation of the civic.

The error, then, of my first period of fieldwork, lay in too simply translating the utility of the civic into its facticity. Because it worked for me it was easy to overestimate the sedimentation of a civic ethos in both the organisation of space and everyday practices of movement. What worked for me was rather a function of the civic as aspirational, perhaps more accurately experimental, (20) and thus fundamentally provisional in quality. This brings me back to the issue of the methodological ground of this error. The experience of 1991 forced me to look beyond the utility of meaning contexts to the specific intersubjective dynamics of their development.

Precisely because of the (then) provisional utility of the roads and the Tabibuga station as civic spaces, I was not compelled to coordinate my provisioning strategies with the practices of my Kwima consociates. While I often did so because that is, after all, fieldwork, the coordination was not driven by the kind of intimate dependence that governed travel in 1991. I depended on the moral economy of the hamlet (of which the sociality of fire and food was one vital part) in my everyday life, but it did not seem that I was equally dependent on such a moral economy to move. I argue that the status one gives to this choice is what inflects the interpretation. If one assumes that the choice is embedded in a convergence of specific forms of power and meaning in the Jimi road system, then the practices of mobility of my consociates assume the character of an ethnic strategy in civic space. It would be tempting, then, to treat those strategies in terms of Lefebvre' s (1991) powerful conceptual triad of spatial practice, representations of space and representational spaces. A closer examination of that triad, however, reveals the coordinating assumption that 'conceptualised space, the space of scientists, planners, urbanists, technocratic subdividers and social engineers ... is the dominant space in any society' (Lefebvre 1991: 38-39). Clearly I do not believe that such an assumption holds for 1991, and this in turn has lead me to reconsider the implications of acting as if it were true in 1979/80.

It is important to re-emphasize that this contingent relationship between my strategies and those of my consociates spoke a certain truth because that, after all, was the point of the Jimi experiment with the civic. The Kwima Councillor, and patriarch of my hamlet, used to openly fantasize of a world without pigs in which one was free to pursue business. But, in the end, being white, an outsider, and male, and having an ingrained civic disposition, I was able to realise this mode of mobility unlike anyone else. By the very nature of the experiment, I was unhitched from the discipline of the intersubjective coordination of my mobility.

If we are to draw on Lefebvre's seminal work it is more his warning against the 'illusion of transparency' in which 'space appears as luminous, as intelligible, as giving action free rein' (Lefebvre 1991: 38-39) that is to the point. The relative autonomy with which I provisioned my fieldwork became a poor guide to the unravelling of the post-colonial experiment and the implosion of government in Papua New Guinea in the 1980s. Because I was not routinely implicated in the pragmatic reserve with which Maring treated this civic space I mistook the sociological status of the correspondence between local and Government forms of spatial rhetoric. As this spatial rhetoric collapsed it was the pragmatic reserve that emerged as the logic of a new kind of business. In turn, methodologically, the revelation of the full implications of this new kind of business in 1991 compelled my retrospective recognition of the thread of evidence for that pragmatic reserve.


Ridler's compelling (1996) essay on friendship in the field is built around the tension between the empathic quality of a shared 'way of being' in the mountains with his friend Pier Paolo (1996: 252), first experienced some 8 years after the beginning of their friendship, and the 'epistemological violence' of the relationship between his representational project and Pier Paolo's narratives of self. Ridler draws attention to the fact that the textual reductions of anthropologists are driven in part by 'the necessity of shaping experience toward representation ... both retrospectively (s/he shapes the account of that experience narratively) but also, and prior to this, projectively (the ethnographer lives experience toward a text)' (1996: 243). This brings me back to my companions' question about money. It was unsettling for the disjunctions it revealed, not just between our perspectives on space, but also between our projects. The question was not one I could answer. I could talk of the manufacture of money, of forgery, of the durability and circulation life of notes. All this was interesting but it did not address the underlying problem of the narrative--the where of wealth and power and of the kind of social agent who might be able to exploit it. For me, the point of the coordination of our streams of consciousness was to be able to write an inside for an outside audience; to take the question and turn it into an interpretive perspective on the history of space in the Jimi. For my companions the point of my difference was to find the 'line of power' (Strathern, A. 1984) to an outside--a line of power that, ultimately, I do not believe can be found by those so peripheral to the global economy.

DOI: 10.1002/ocea.5006


This article covers material collected during three different periods of fieldwork with Maring speakers in Kwima, Western Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea. The first period of fieldwork of 15 months in 1979/80 was funded by a Commonwealth Postgraduate Research Award and by a travel grant from the University of Adelaide. This was followed by two further periods of one month in 1987 and three months in 1991/2, funded by small grants from the University of Sydney. My thanks go to the residents of Dwend who allowed me to share in the life of the hamlet. My particular thanks go to Ronold Ti who so patiently assisted with my work. Thanks also to Tom Ernst who first introduced me to Schutz's work, although it has been a long time bearing fruit. Finally my thanks to Martin Forsey and Rosita Henry who convened the session Revelatory Moments in Fieldwork at the 2009 Australian Anthropological Society Conference at Macquarie University for which the first version of this article was written.


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Neil Maclean

University of Sydney


(1.) Until Recently the Jimi Valley was a District of the Western Highlands Province (WHP). The WHP has now been divided in two and Jimi is part of the new Jiwaka Province.

(2.) Details can be found at: The notes were distinctive for people because of the new material (polymer) and the 'Complex clear window incorporating a vignette of the Bank of Papua New Guinea logo'.

(3.) In the local usage of Melanesian Pidgin kwesten has connotations of a challenge to power and knowledge.

(4.) See Lipuma (2001: 1-2) for a 1980 story about the flight of the cassowary that picks up on many of these 'cargo' like themes. Lipuma presents it as a' "new myth," nothing more than a fabricated and amusing tale by Maring lights.' By 1990 stories with these themes were proposing serious questions about the real source of wealth.

(5.) Kumbruf was the site of the first gold mine in the area established by an Australian prospector in the very early 1950s. The Kobana learned the techniques of alluvial mining from him and have continued to mine the site ever since. This raises a range of questions about the relationship between gold as product of the land. local labour and magical knowledge on the one hand and money on the other that I cannot pursue here.

(6.) See Knauft (2005), Strathern and Stewart (2003) and Goddard (2002) for three different histories.

(7.) Wardlow confirms the magnetic potential of such a small-scale modernity remarking that when she first arrived in Tari 'it did not seem a place that would inspire unmanageable feelings of desire' and yet 'the longer I was there ... the more I myself was intoxicated by the one big store in town' (2006:31). In Tabibuga the lure of the resources of government and Local Government Council was equally compelling.

(8.) The absolute decline in the civic was reversed with the opening of a Jimi Valley High School. I met graduates of the High School at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2000. More recently Digicel has built communication towers in the Jimi to enable mobile phone coverage. Nevertheless people in the Jimi remain at one with many parts of rural Papua New Guinea in their sense of remoteness from Government and the lack of 'services'. See 'Villagers Cry Out for Services" Post Courier, Thursday August 5th, 2010. Accessed at: http:// Tabibuga has continued to decline as a centre. Recent information sheets from the National Research Institute (2010) have Kol named as the Jimi District Headquarters and the High School was until recently located at Kol. The latest news is that even that gain will disappear with the school being relocated to Banz due to decrepit infrastructure and violence sparked by the election: 12.htm. It is unclear whether there is now any permanent police presence in the Valley.

(9.) See Lipuma (2001) for a detailed exploration of the variability of Maring engagements with modernity across different sites in the social field.

(10.) See Maclean (2010) for an analysis of the specificity of Maring forms of social closure in terms of the dynamics of bridewealth, and Maclean (2012) for an analysis of the intersubjective dynamics of intimacy. Lipuma (2001) has also discussed the more general cosmological and cultural implications of the inside/outside distinction.

(11.) Merlan and Rumsey (1991) have recuperated the term segmentary to describe these shifting levels of identity for Highlands Papua New Guinea.

(12.) See Maclean (1990) for a more detailed account of relations between these clans.

(13.) The choice of language to describe these businesses is not straightforward. I use the tern network to elnphasise the routine goal-directed nature of the arrangements to guarantee mobility and security in pursuit of profit. However, if one were to emphasise the social basis on which the networks were built and the forms of status that attach to them then, in Wagner's (1991) terms, 1 could describe Clement as a fractal person bent on extending his name out across the Valley and beyond, but grounded in the local coalition that is the Yaraka business group. Matthew Tsaina would be the 'elbow' (Strathern, M. 1988: 268-274) that links Clement to Morokai land. Describing Matthew in these terms does not preclude the fact that Matthew is an entrepreneur with extensive connections in his own right.

(14.) I disagree with Stasch's view that the anthropological study of kinship is an 'area of ongoing Gemeinschaft-leaning theoretical sensibilities' (2009: 12) but agree that the Gemeinschaft-Gesellschaft binary is a 'dominant strand of Western thought' (2009: 1) that persistently threatens to subsume the analysis of kinship.

(15.) From the perspective of Kwima people Kol has a long-standing association with development due to its proximity to the Chimbu District (Simbu Province) and the early development of coffee there. Coffee seedlings first came into the Jimi through Kol.

(16.) Bourdieu frames his theorising as a critique of a phenomenology as a 'subjectivist' perspective that 'excludes the question of the conditions of possibility of ... experience, namely the coincidence of the objective structures and internalized structures which provides the illusion of immediate understanding, characteristic of practical experience of the familiar universe' (1990: 25-5). Jackson (1996:20-21) has correctly diagnosed both Bourdieu's debt to phenomenology and some of the double-binds inherent in his attempt to escape it. See also Throop and Murphy (2002), (but also Bourdieu's 2002 reply), for a similar treatment of Bourdieu's debt to phenomenology. Nevertheless two features of Bourdieu's formulation of the habitus remain important to this argument: the embeddedness within a specific history and wider politico-economic context; the seeds of 'habitus" as concept in Bourdieu's analysis on the 'Kabyle House' (first published in 1970), analysed as a conjunction of spatial dispositions and microcosmological order. I suspect that the issue of Bourdieu's debt to phenomenology takes on an immediate salience in kinship based societies in which lifelong relationships of consociality are so existentially and structurally significant.

(17.) See Maclean (2012) for a more sustained treatment of this difference.

(18.) I walked along that stretch of road once when accompanying a party carrying bridewealth to their Morokai affines. On a brief fieldtrip in 19871 flew in and out through the still functioning airstrip at the Anglican Mission station in Koinambe, further west along the northern face of the Valley from Kwima.

(19.) Here I am interpreting Schutz drawing on Jackson's (1998) exploration of intersubjectivity. See also Maclean (2012).

(20.) Burridge's description of cargo as an 'experimental point of departure from the self' (1960: 260) captures this quality.
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Date:Mar 1, 2013
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