In Memory of Times to Come: Ironies of History in Southeastern Papua New Guinea | BERGHAHN BOOKS
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In Memory of Times to Come: Ironies of History in Southeastern Papua New Guinea

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Volume 12

ASAO Studies in Pacific Anthropology

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In Memory of Times to Come

Ironies of History in Southeastern Papua New Guinea

Melissa Demian

240 pages, 13 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-80073-116-5 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (June 2021)

ISBN  978-1-80539-136-4 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (December 2023)

eISBN 978-1-80539-405-1 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


“The volume provides an intimate exploration of Suau perceptions of time and space. Drawing on more than 20 years of experience, Demian achieves a nuanced portrayal of how Suau culture reacted to the loss of global connections during the past several decades…Exploring the Melanesian concepts of land as a space instantiated by the human relationships that fill it, this thoughtful, innovative study offers much to the contemporary discipline of anthropology.” • Choice

“The book is an exemplar of beautiful ethnographic writing combined with a refreshing honesty about what fieldwork is and the kinds of relationships anthropologists form in a process of interacting with other people…[It] will be an excellent resource to use in undergraduate anthropology and Pacific studies courses, as well as being theoretically compelling enough to use in graduate coursework.” • Anthropos

“Brilliant ethnography…This is an important and welcome book. Demian writes beautifully, moving seamlessly from vivid ethnographic description to acute theoretical and comparative analysis.” • Pacific Affairs

“This beautifully written ethnography challenges the social sciences to rethink longstanding approaches to belonging, identity, place, and change. It is an extraordinary contribution to sociocultural anthropology.” • Paige West, Columbia University


Drawing on twenty years of research, this book examines the historical perspective of a Pacific people who saw “globalization” come and go. Suau people encountered the leading edge of missionization and colonialism in Papua New Guinea and were active participants in the Second World War. In Memory of Times to Come offers a nuanced account of how people assess their own experience of change over the course of a critical century. It asks two key questions: What does it mean to claim that global connections are in the past rather than the present or the future, and what does it mean to claim that one has lost one’s culture, but not because anyone else took it away or destroyed it?

Melissa Demian is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology at the University of St Andrews. She has conducted research in Papua New Guinea for over twenty years, and has published on the topics of customary law, legal pluralism, legal history, child adoption, narratives of cultural loss and cultural patrimony, gender, and urbanization.

Subject: Anthropology (General)History (General)Cultural Studies (General)
Area: Asia-Pacific


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