Dr Tony Crook

  • My interest in the wider Ok Tedi area began in 1990 with a three-month undergraduate study of the ritual response to failed wild pig hunts near Telefomin in 1990.

    From 1994 to 1996, I lived in Bolivip village, studying Angkaiyakmin knowledge-practices and kinship relations in the context of taro gardening and male initiation ritual, and received my PhD from Cambridge University in 1997. Shortly afterwards, I returned to PNG for three-months as a Visiting Fellow at the National Research Institute to research ‘dispute resolution’ in the context of two plane crashes in 1994, by researching points of view on all sides so as to understand the reasons for Ok Tedi’s brief closure in the aftermath.

    From 1999-2002 I was involved in a large UK government sponsored team research project ‘Property, Transactions and Creations: New Economic Relations in the Pacific’, at a time when PNG was formulating legislation and policy for property rights, copyright and patent, and at a time when Ok Tedi was under-going changes to its ownership and ‘social licence’ to operate. The project involved two phases of fieldwork: an ethno-botany collection during three-months in 1999 provided the context for studying ownership practices, and seven months from September 2000 to April 2001 spent in Tabubil which focused on several issues: the compensation claim by the West Ningerum Pressure Association alleging mine damages to two rivers, the background to understanding this claim, and attempts to resolve the dispute; BHP’s withdrawl from Ok Tedi, and negotiations (in Tabubil and Kiunga) towards the Mine Continuation Agreement; Ok Tedi worker’s descriptions of the knowledge-practices and relationships involved in their work; domestic monetary flows in Angkaiyakmin households in Wangbin and C-houses to explore the ability to maintain kinship obligations.

    During this time I collaborated with ten PNG graduates on a project: ‘Case Studies from the Ok Tedi Area’, a series of short ethnographic studies focused on how people responded to a range of social issues and practices in the wider area. I returned briefly in 2004 and for two months in 2006-7 to revisit some of these studies.

    See also the PURE research profile.