Research Programs: Fellowships

Period of Performance

8/1/2020 - 7/31/2021

Funding Totals

$60,000.00 (approved)
$60,000.00 (awarded)

Preservation and Publication of Bernard Narokobi's "History of Wautogik Village" Manuscript

FAIN: FEL-262814-19

Lise Dobrin
University of Virginia (Charlottesville, VA 22903-4833)

Preparation of a digital publication of Bernard Narokobi’s “History of Wautogik Village” Manuscript (Papua New Guinea)

This project will digitally contextualize, preserve, and disseminate the History of Wautogik Village, a typescript manuscript written by the Papua New Guinean author and intellectual Bernard Narokobi. This resource is vulnerable to being lost because of its fragility and because of the endangered nature of the knowledge necessary to interpret it. The manuscript orients readers to the political ethos of Melanesian village life and provides insight into Narokobi's ideas about Melanesian sovereignty. The project will produce an open-access digital display of the text with annotations and links to audiovisual materials to make it accessible to contemporary audiences. The digital publication will adhere to archival best practices and traditional Melanesian cultural practices that call for presentation of alternative perspectives, especially from elders. Digital publication will thus provide a model for the written transmission of knowledge in historically oral cultures.

Media Coverage

UVA Anthropologist Digitizes a Changing Culture From Half a World Away (Media Coverage)
Author(s): Anne E. Bromley
Publication: UVA Today
Date: 1/9/2020

Associated Products

A ‘Nation of Villages’ and a Village ‘Nation State’: The Arapesh Model for Bernard Narokobi’s Melanesian Way. (Article)
Title: A ‘Nation of Villages’ and a Village ‘Nation State’: The Arapesh Model for Bernard Narokobi’s Melanesian Way.
Author: Lise M. Dobrin
Abstract: Published writings by the Papua New Guinean politician and intellectual Bernard Narokobi present modern Papua New Guinea as a projection of village-based social relations; as he writes in Foundations for Nationhood, ‘We are a nation of villages’. This article explores Narokobi’s idea of Papua New Guinea as a village writ large, showing how this conceptualization drew upon his experience of a particular historical and cultural place, the Arapesh village of Wautogik in the mountains of East Sepik Province, where he spent his childhood and returned regularly throughout his life, and which he described as a nation unto itself in an unpublished manuscript that he composed in his later years. Beyond finding reflection in his writings, which often build upon Arapesh concepts and motifs, Narokobi’s valorization of Wautogik as a worthy model led him to reciprocally invest, in a deeply principled way, in the village’s continued vitality and integrity as a social entity.
Year: 2020
Primary URL:
Access Model: subscription
Format: Journal
Periodical Title: Journal of Pacific History
Publisher: Taylor and Francis