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The Iatmul Experience

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Chapter Summary

In decentering" their traditional approach, the labor historians can benefit from ethnological studies. It is not uncommon for different ethnologists to visit and study a certain ethnic group or region over the course of several decades. And while the resulting publications vary in quality and cover a range of different aspects of the same local society, the combination of different works may shed light on longer-term developments - especially when the ethnological material is complemented by oral history, the memoirs of concerned officials and research in the archives of colonial states, missionary organizations and the like. This chapter illustrates the idea with ethnological findings about the Iatmul, a people in the Middle Sepik region of Papua New Guinea that experienced progressively greater encounters with wage labor. At any rate, ethnographers have much to offer labor historians, including over 21,000 brief and extended studies on Papua New Guinea alone.

Keywords: ethnographers; ethnological studies; Iatmul; labor historians; missionary organizations



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