Dan Jorgensen
Department of Anthropology

The University of Western Ontario
Scenes from my research in Papua new Guinea
Derolengam today
Office: SSC 3408

(519) 661-2111
Ext. 85085

Fax: (519) 661-2157
e-mail: dwj@uwo.ca
Address: Department of Anthropology
University of Western Ontario
London, ON
N6A 5C2


Research Interests
I'm a social anthropologist by training, and my theoretical interests have varied during the course of the last two decades as my ethnographic concerns have shifted. My fieldwork site is among the Telefolmin people of Papua New Guinea's Sepik headwaters (West Sepik Province). I originally went there in 1974/75 to get at the dynamics of local level politics by focusing on disputing as a context for creating coalitions and deploying support. This strategy was disarmed by the Telefol reluctance to engage in open disputing with each other (unlike many of their countrymen), and Telefolmin (or at least the men) thought I could spend my time much more profitably by learning about their initiation cult and the mythology that went along with it. So it was that I found myself specializing in the anthropology of religion, with an emphasis on myth, ritual and secrecy. Given the obvious gender dimension of the men's cult, I also devoted some attention to the relation between men and women in Telefol life.

PNG achieved independence in 1975, and shortly thereafter Telefol lives changed in two related and important ways: a local program of evangelism (Rebaibal) redefined Telefol identity in Christian terms (sweeping much of the traditional religion away in its wake), and plans for large-scale mining at Ok Tedi and Frieda River ("Nena") became looming presences on local horizons. This prompted a second field visit in 1979, and over the course of four subsequent field trips (1983/84, 1992, 1995, 2004) much of my work has been devoted to making sense of these developments. My main emphasis has been on Telefol responses to their position on PNG's mining frontier, and this obliges me to take into account the ways Telefolmin and other Papua New Guineans situate themselves vis-a-vis the postcolonial state, mining companies, environmental NGOs and what we have come to call globalization. My current interests are in the analysis of what Tsing has called 'scale-making' in the complex and sometimes surprising ways that the projects of local people and outsiders come together (and occasionally clash) in contexts such as resource development or transnational evangelism. In more practical terms, I am also working with other colleagues to understand the regional implications of mine closure as Papua New Guinea's major mine projects (such as Ok Tedi or Porgera) move towards termination.