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Courting Disputes: The Materialisation and Flexibility of a Dispute Forum Network in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea

Houghton, Eve (2017) Courting Disputes: The Materialisation and Flexibility of a Dispute Forum Network in West New Britain, Papua New Guinea. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,.

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Abstract

This thesis examines how relationships and ethical practices and judgements are made explicit in the dispute forums of Papua New Guinea (PNG). It also explores what the outcomes of this explication can mean for methods of local conflict resolution. My findings are based on twelve months of fieldwork conducted in the province of West New Britain, with particular focus on the region of Bialla and the dispute forums therein. There are a large number of dispute forums used in Bialla that emerge outside the purview of the state government. With such a large number of different venues in the region, it is worth asking what they are used for and how they might connect with, and work alongside, a relatively more state recognised venue - the village court. Without more extensive consideration of how these forums work in relation to one another, can current discussions surrounding the uses and outcomes of the village courts accurately reflect what these forums do? To answer these questions my research explores the significance of actor-networks and conceptions of place in the production of authority and conflict resolution. By mobilising theories of emplacement and actor-oriented anthropology my findings are able to challenge the prevailing understanding that law sits at the heart of the courts and can be used as bar against which the use and outcomes of a dispute forum can be measured. By removing law from this central position, other facets that are significant to the usage of dispute forums in Bialla can be revealed. My discussion revolves around the examination of a number of Bialla's dispute forums including: the content of the disputes overseen there, details of the way in which disputes are treated in each instance, and the way in which each forum materialises physically on each occasion. In this way, my research considers factors that contribute to the use of these dispute forums and what that may mean for local communities. I explore how extensive group dynamics and long established conflicts are represented and addressed in each. Those venues that are unable to address certain disputes also provide a revealing aspect of my discussion. Limitations go some way to explain why such a wide range of forums are required to oversee the variety of disputes in Bialla. Ultimately, I argue that dispute forums are flexible venues that materialise as a result of actor-networks in order to address the wide variety of disputes arising in the area.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Uncontrolled keywords: Papua New Guinea West New Britain Mediation Conflict Village Courts Materialisation Actor-Networks Law Bialla
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 12 May 2017 17:00 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 19:03 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/61709 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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