PNG trip… more questions

I have just returned from my second trip to Papua New Guinea visiting a PhD student working on the PNG mining case study that is part of our Marsden-funded research on Corporate Community Development. The aim of this visit, and my recent trip to Fiji was to  get an overview of the research findings to date, and to allow me to gain an overview of two case study sites, exploring aspects of the research question and themes which intersect. This is an interesting challenge — tourism and mining are such different industries and the commonalities are easily obscured by the obvious and highly visible differences.

Our research house in the village - home for two weeks.

Our research house in the village – home for two weeks.

One of the most immediate differences for me personally was in the living arrangements. While in Fiji we lived simply but in Western comfort, the trip to PNG was a challenging one. The student I was visiting is based in a village outside the mine affected zone, and ‘home’ is a two roomed village house with no running water or electricity and a pit toilet. It is also a bit of a fishbowl – with our activities visible to people in the surrounding hamlet and passers-by on the road. Although not easy, it was an important (if short and somewhat superficial) insight into village life and an interesting community-level perspective on mine activities and impacts. During my two-week stay we were able to complete some important interviews, to observe a some development-related meetings and to visit several surrounding villages. These experiences and the discussions we had over the data already collected added to the questions about inclusion/exclusion, inequality and the meaning of development, that I had left Fiji with, and reinforced my conviction that there significant intersections in the case studies of mining and tourism. As I prepare for my next trips (conferences and meetings in the UK and NZ) I will continue to puzzle over these.

 

note taking

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