Papua New Guinea Village Studies of the early 1970's: History and Reflections
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This paper provides an overview and reflection on the theoretical underpinnings and methods of the 'Village Studies Project' at the University of Technology in Lae, Papua New Guinea from its inception in 1971 to 1975, referred to as the 'early work' or 'early village studies'. It also discusses the early work regarding knowledge and purpose of the researchers. Village studies is contextualised as an important aspect in founding the then new professional program in architecture in PNG. The project was motivated by a commitment of the founding head of architecture, Professor Neville Quarry, to ground education and research in the nation's building and settlement traditions and its diverse cultures. Quarry was well aware that European anthropologists had extensively studied people and culture in PNG over the previous fifty or so years but he knew that such work had only tangentially engaged with buildings. His intention was to document an architectural vocabulary which he believed important to strengthen understanding of traditions in support of creative ingenuity for future architecture. Twenty four villages have been identified that were studied between 1971 and 1975 after which the early researchers left PNG for post graduate studies and teaching and practice careers. Most of this early work remains in private collections, while some has been lost. Little of the early work has previously been discussed in scholarly forums and much of it is little known about outside of the researchers. The Village Studies Project case studies documented after 1975 are housed in the Architectural Heritage Centre of Papua New Guinea, established by Professor Wallace M Ruff (known as Mack Ruff) who significantly expanded upon the earlier work. This later period has been discussed by several commentators over the past twenty years in various conferences and publications, but with little or no reference to the early work. This paper establishes a record about this earlier phase of the Village Studies Project.
Audience: Proceedings of the XXVIIIth International Conference of the Society of Architectural Historians, Australia and New Zealand
Copyright 2011 SAHANZ. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the conference's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Architectural History and Theory