Witch hunts in Papua New Guinea's Eastern Highlands Province: A Fieldwork Report

Event details

SSGM Seminar Series

Date & time

Tuesday 25 February 2014


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


Richard Eves & Angela Kelly-Hanku


Louana Gaffey
+61 2 6125 8244

The issue of sorcery and witchcraft-related accusations and violence in Papua New Guinea is receiving increasing attention from researchers. However, little attention has been paid to the perpetrators of these violent attacks. An important prerequisite to devising culturally appropriate and effective prevention strategies is to comprehend the worldview of the perpetrators and the factors that drive their violent attacks. This seminar reports on fieldwork undertaken in November and December 2013 in Goroka with men who had participated in attacks on people accused of witchcraft. Contrary to the common view that the perpetrators are €˜drugbodis' €“ idle, drug-taking youths €“ the research reveals a different picture of the perpetrators and the community support they receive.

Richard Eves is a senior fellow with the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia Program at the Australian National University. Angela Kelly-Hanku is a principal researcher with the PNG Institute of Medical Research and a senior researcher in the School of Public Health & Community Medicine, University of New South Wales.

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