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Village on the Edge: Changing Times in Papua New Guinea

Village on the Edge: Changing Times in Papua New Guinea

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Kragur village lies on the rugged north shore of Kairiru, a steep volcanic island just off the north coast of Papua New Guinea. In 1998 the village looked much as it had some twenty-two years earlier when author Michael French Smith first visited. But hesoon found that changing circumstances were shaking things up. Village on the Edge weaves together the story of Kragur villagers' struggle to find their own path toward the future with the story of Papua New Guinea's travails in the post-independence era. Smith writes of his own experiences as well, living and working in Papua New Guinea and trying to understand the complexities of an unfamiliar way of life. To tell all these stories, he delves into ghosts, magic, myths, ancestors, bookkeeping, tourism, the World Bank, the Holy Spirit, and the meaning of progress and development. Village on the Edge draws on the insights of cultural anthropology but is written for anyone interested in Papua New Guinea.

"In Village on the Edge, Michael French Smith provides the reader with something rare and precious--a humane and sharply insightful view into the rich local world of a village in transition in Papua New Guinea." --- Bruce Beehler, Conservation International

"Michael French Smith spins a great yarn. He has an admirable ability to translate personal experiences into a meaningful message and can describe complex social phenomena in ways that the anthropologically uninitiated can understand and appreciate. I finished this book in just a few sittings and thoroughly enjoyed it." --- Richard Scaglion, University of Pittsburgh

"Michael French Smith's Village on the Edge is a heartfelt and perceptive account of a people facing enormous change. In essence, although this book concerns the people of Kragur Village, it tells the story of all of contemporary Melanesia. It is a unique work, elucidating a unique period of change among an extraordinary people." --- Tim Flannery, author of Throwim Way Leg: Tree Kangaroos, Possums and Penis Gourds