A ‘PNG’ Study into Racial Difference In Contemporary Service Delivery Practices

Nalisa Neuendorf


The people of Papua New Guinea (PNG) and Australia have established linkages through a history of colonisation, Christianity, corporate capitalism and development. This creates an intricate and complex environment within PNG which social relations and interactions occur, between, expatriates, especially Australians, and PNG people. A nuanced understanding of these interactions as they relate to perceived differences in service delivery is likely to generate insights into contemporary understandings of racial differences, colonial legacies and how PNG can ‘develop’ in to a modern society. At issue for PNG people delivering and receiving service, is how differences in service delivery can sometimes translate into debilitating or inequitable interactions.
As part of my honours thesis, I am undertaking a study based on the narrative accounts of PNG people in Cairns (Australia), Port Moresby and Lae (PNG) about their experience of PNG-expatriate interactions within the context of contemporary urban service delivery and business operations. Through the study, specific accounts will highlight the perceptions of the narrators and their remembered actions. At issue will be perceptions that Australian and other expatriates receive better or different service then the PNG narrator.
Undertaking this research as a Papua New Guinean, working specifically with PNG participants will have specific implications on the research process, and on my role as dually, a PNG person and researcher. This research will involve understanding perceptions of PNG people as told to a PNG researcher. I want to explore (i) how being an identified Papua New Guinean impacts research process; (ii) how being an identified researcher documenting the accounts of a known cohort, impacts participant narrative and story-telling; and (iii) the ways being an identified PNG researcher can contribute to the discussion/debate surrounding indigenous research methodologies and the implications of this for PNG specific research. Academics and institutions recognise indigenous methods in undertaking indigenous specific research. PNG people have an identity that is not easily defined as an indigenous identity, given PNG’s unique colonial and post colonial recognition of land ownership and associated forms of local power. Through this paper, I wish to discuss the implications of this in understanding what it means to be PNG, in undertaking PNG specific research.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.25120/etropic.13.1.2014.3324


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