The appearing and disappearing world of the Bogaiya: a corner of Papua New Guinea cultural history

Statement of Responsibility:
Stewart, Pamela J. and Andrew J. Strathern

Classifications of the languages spoken by people in corners of the regional landscapes of the Papua New Guinea Highlands have exercised the attention of linguists interested in the long-term cultural history of the Highlands. The population known as the Bogaiya or Bogaia near to the Strickland River in the Southern Highlands Province are a case in point. Linguistically, affinities between their language and that of the Duna, their neighbors across the Muller Range, have been broached. In cultural terms, through our own fieldwork among the Aluni Valley Duna and in Yeru close to the Strickland, we have also found a range of ideas and ritual practices that link these particular Duna and the Bogaiya, especially practices relating to a Female Spirit figure, the Payame Ima. Duna language and culture features can also be linked with their more populous southern neighbors, the Huli. The Bogaiya conceptually appear or disappear in different ways according to how they are situated in the classifications of linguists and anthropologists. And in their own historical world, forces of recent change brought about by the building of an airstrip and a mission have accelerated a process of their assimilation into the sphere of the Duna. Such processes of shifts in cultural and linguistic identities have probably also formed part of the histories of populations in pre-colonial times, causing discrete groups to appear and disappear, leaving their traces in ethno-historical narratives and traditions.

pages 399-407
Papua New Guinea
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A Mosaic of languages and cultures: studies celebrating the career of Karl J. Franklin