Current Institutional Affiliation
Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Brigham Young University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2014
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / San Diego
Finding Hope in a Time of Decline after Mine Closure in Papua New Guinea

Many post-mine closure communities around the world suffer deindustrialization and dramatic economic decline. Because of this, how people in post-mine communities are able to find hope for a better future in times of dramatic decline is an increasingly urgent question. This project attempts to answer that question through original empirical research on cultural change in contemporary Misima, Papua New Guinea. In 2004, the small island of Misima became the site of one of the largest industrial mine closures in Oceania. Since that time, Misimans have experienced dramatic decline and a "crisis of meaning," making it difficult to hope for a better future with no immediately apparent alternative possibilities. I argue that in response to this crisis, Misimans have reconceptualized their categories of space and time, often through the prism of their Christian faith. I hypothesize that because Misimans believe these categories are highly contingent, they are able to redefine their hopes for a better future. From this we learn not only how people find hope in times of decline, but also what it means to fully recognize the contingency in cultural categories of space and time.