Fighting corruption or pursuing personal aspirations? Student boycotts at the University of Goroka in the Papua New Guinea Highlands

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 15 July 2014


Lecture Theatre 2, Hedley Bull Centre (130), corner of Garran Road and Liversidge Street, ANU
ANU Canberra


Ivo Syndicus, National University of Ireland Maynooth


Louana Gaffey
+61 2 6125 8244


Prolonged student boycotts appear to be a recurrent and distinctive feature at Papua New Guinean (PNG) universities. This paper looks at two recent student boycotts in 2010 and 2013 at the University of Goroka in the PNG Highlands. A particular focus of this paper is on how students bring about, mobilise for, and conduct boycotts; how other actors within and outside the university are engaged through it; and how discourses about 'corruption' and 'rights' are drawn on by students. While the observed student boycotts were different from each other in many respects, they followed similar patterns in mobilising for and maintaining boycotts over several weeks' time. While these boycotts were quickly dismissed by those challenged to address student's demands, based on the conduct of boycotts and the kinds of allegations and demands raised, this paper makes an attempt to understand students' approach to recent boycotts through an ethnographic analysis.

About the speaker

Ivo Syndicus is a PhD Student at the Department of Anthropology at the National University of Ireland Maynooth. He recently conducted 18 months of fieldwork for his research on 'Culture, Development and Higher Education in Papua New Guinea' at the University of Goroka in the PNG Highlands. Ivo has a background in Agriculture Ecology, Rural Development and Natural Resource Management, and has conducted research on changes in the social organisation and governance of land use in the Bolivian Andes and the PNG Highlands. A growing interest in post-colonial education systems through experiences in India, Bolivia, and a year as visiting student at the University of Goroka in 2010, led him to his current research on higher education in PNG.

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