Where to next?: garden site selection in the Papua New Guinea highlands

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Author: Paul Sillitoe
Date: Mar. 1999
From: Oceania(Vol. 69, Issue 3)
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing Limited, a company of John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 11,280 words

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Abstract :

The Wola speakers of the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea are nominally shifting cultivators. The question asked here is how do they decide, when they periodically abandon gardens, where to establish new ones. The answer is framed in terms of an investigation of knowledge largely in action rather than as discourse. Several factors are postulated as influencing site selection, among them distance to location, ease of enclosing it, site topography (including aspect, slope and altitude), its vegetation cover, and finally social considerations that might inform gardeners' choices. It includes a critique of materialistic assumptions in respect of social status and access to productive resources. It is noteworthy that these decisions are made in a context where there is currently no pressure on arable land resources, the region having large forested reserves. A review of data collected from a sample of gardens in the Wage valley (presented in terms of both numbers of gardens and their areas), suggests that farmers skillfully draw on their experiential knowledge in balancing consideration of various factors, none necessarily predominating in their decision making.

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A54657613