Nayahamui Rooney

Dr Nayahamui Rooney


Research activity per year

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Research interests

With a focus on Papua New Guinea, Michelle blends political economy, economic anthropology and human geography approaches to examine livelihoods in PNG. Her PhD thesis draws on theoretical concepts of anthropology of value, kinship and urban space to examine livelihoods in the urban PNG context. She also comments on social, political and economic issues on PNG.I research social safety nets in urban spaces in PNG. Themes in her research include migration, changing notions of Melanesian land ownership, livelihoods, social security, gender, and housing. Key actors include migrant communities, indigenous communities and customary landowners, the state, business, development agencies, and churches.

Michelle’s research is multi-sited and her research methods are multidisciplinary crossing development studies, gender, anthropology, human geography and ethnographic poetry. More recently, she is exploring the interwoven narratives of material culture and social safety in urban spaces.

Current research projects include:

a.       Port Moresby: Social safety of migrant settlement communities and the political economy of urban services. This project is an ongoing project that broadens the scope of my doctoral research to explore other ongoing political economy processes in Port Moresby with focus on services, markets, and cultural experiences in the city.

b.       Lorengau, Manus Island: Weaving identity as society and culture changes in Manus. This project explores, materially and conceptually, the interwoven processes of social and cultural change in Manus island that has been brought about by the Australian off-shore detention centre. The project looks at how social and cultural processes are changing as asylum seekers and refugees have been released into the community.

c.       Lae, Morobe Province. This is a collaborative research project between the ANU, University of PNG, and PNG’s University of PNG. The research project examines family strategies to address family and sexual violence while they maintain their children’s school attendance.


Researcher's projects

2012 - 2016: PhD Thesis: An indepth case study of livelihood strategies in urban Papua New Guinea exploring urban land and housing, urban services (education and water), informal settlements, incomes and livelihoods, crime and security, migration and urban sociality.

2017: Access to urban services for gendered family and sexual violence in Lae, Morobe Province Papua New Guinea.


PhD (Multidisciplinary: anthropology, geography, pol economy; gender, development, poetry), ANU; MA in Development Economics (Distinction), University of Sussex, UK; Bachelor of Economics (Hon), ANU.


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