People who write about customary land in Papua New Guinea commonly make the observation that it accounts for ninety-seven per cent of the country’s surface area. If they are right, then the ‘bare facts’ of land tenure have not changed since Independence in 1975. In fact they are wrong, but the appearance of a static division of space continually motivates a debate about what (if anything) should be done about the ‘mobilization’ of customary land to facilitate ‘rural development’. Behind the ideological trappings of this argument, we find a rather curious double movement: on the one hand a substantial increase in the proportion of ‘customary’ land which is subject to specific forms of modern property right; and on the other, a simultaneous increase in the area of ‘alienated’ land subject to successful rental claims by customary landowners. In this chapter we investigate one case of this double movement on ‘alienated’ land claimed by the Kakat Baining people of East New Britain to illustrate some of the contradictions embedded in arguments about the relationship between ‘land mobilization’ and ‘rural development’.
|Title of host publication||Ownership and Appropriation|
|Editors||V. Strang and M. Busse|
|Place of Publication||Oxford|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|