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Title: Academic Responsibilities and Representation of the Ok Tedi Crisis in Postcolonial Papua New Guinea
Authors: Hyndman, David
Keywords: ecology
Ok Tedi
Papua New Guinea
political ecology
research conduct
LC Subject Headings: Oceania -- Periodicals.
Issue Date: 2001
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Center for Pacific Islands Studies
Citation: Hyndman, D. 2001. Academic Responsibilities and Representation of the Ok Tedi Crisis in Postcolonial Papua New Guinea. The Contemporary Pacific 13 (1): 33-54.
Abstract: Since the start of the Ok Tedi mining project in Papua New Guinea in 1981, Broken
Hill Proprietary has operated it. Weak environmental protection laws and a
series of ecological disasters have endangered the greater Ok Tedi and Fly River
socioecological region. A grassroots indigenous popular ecological resistance
movement made an out-of-court settlement with the mining company in Melbourne
in 1996. Early in 2000 the indigenous movement took Broken Hill Proprietary
back to court in Melbourne to block the company’s attempt to abandon
the Ok Tedi mine. Research started with Wopkaimin subsistence ecology in the
1970s. Later the political ecology of the Ok Tedi crisis was evaluated, as was ecological
change in social terms; both are illustrated through the politics of cultural
and ecological representation. After the successful convergence of radical environmentalists
and indigenous popular ecological resistance against the Ok Tedi
mine, research shifted to liberation ecology to study the emancipatory potential
of struggles and conflicts against environmental degradation. The responsibilities
of academics conducting research in the Ok Tedi crisis are examined. The Ok
Tedi crisis challenges the proposition that academics can act as honest bro k e r s
t h rough mining companies to negotiate deals for local communities. Academics
engaged by mining companies as consultants or employees must work according
to managed science and circumscribed briefs. The approach of critical liberation
ecology, which directs research to community empowerment, represents a freedom
of critical inquiry only available in the academy.
ISSN: 1043-898X
Appears in Collections:TCP [The Contemporary Pacific ], 2001 - Volume 13, Number 1

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