Mortuary ritual and mining riches in Island Melanesia

Nicholas A Bainton and Martha Macintyre

In this chapter, we analyze the historical changes to mortuary ritual in the context oflarge-scale resource development in insular Papua New Guinea (PNG). We compare the Lihir Islands in New Ireland Province, where a gold mine is ongoing, with changes on Misima Island in Milne Bay Province, where a mine had shut down. In Lihir and Misima, mortuary rituals are similarly structured around an extended series of feasts and exchanges that complete obligations toward the deceased and create renown for the hosts. Lihirians and Misimans have been quick students of development and swiftly put their newfound wealth to good use in customary feasting. The resulting efflorescence of custom has been a defining feature of their engagement with mining capitalism. At present, Lihirian mortuary rituals continue to expand in step with the growing mining economy, while the closure of the Misima gold mine in 2004 forced a rednction in Misiman ritual excess.

Bainton, N. A. & Macintyre, M. (2016). Mortuary ritual and mining riches in Island Melanesia in D. Lipset & E. K. Silverman (Eds.), Mortuary dialogues: Death ritual and the reproduction of moral community in Pacific modernities. Berghahn Books: New York.

This publication is copyright but can be shared for scholarly purposes if requested. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Book chapter
Post-closure, Other
Papua New Guinea
Mortuary ritual and mining riches in Island Melanesia