MAKING IT THEIR OWN: PATTERNS OF READING AND WRITING IN A NEWLY-LITERATE PAPUA NEW GUINEAN COMMUNITY

Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography

ISBN: 978-0-76231-018-0, eISBN: 978-1-84950-210-8

ISSN: 1529-210X

Publication date: 22 April 2003

Abstract

This chapter examines the ways in which literacy is used in the daily life in one rural village community in Simbu in the Papua New Guinea highlands.1 An ethnographic perspective enables us to see how literacy is incorporated into already existing concepts and conventions regarding aspects of village cultural and social life. The material presented here relates to how the uses of reading and writing are strongly associated with local notions of self-promotion, economic relations and decoration. At the same time, I will show that the panoply of literacy uses in these contexts are overlaid and to a large extent governed by literacy’s associations with modernity. The chapter first provides a general overview of the kinds of reading practices that occur in the village setting, noting that many of these practices do not correspond to the ways in which agencies responsible for imparting literacy, particularly the local school, intend. The ensuing sections demonstrate how uses of writing in the village are shaped by local concepts of prestige, chance and reciprocity. These are not intended to be seen as discrete and mutually exclusive but rather as general, albeit overlapping, social phenomena which help illuminate the processes by which literacy has been added to the communicative repertoire.

Citation

McKeown, E. (2003), "MAKING IT THEIR OWN: PATTERNS OF READING AND WRITING IN A NEWLY-LITERATE PAPUA NEW GUINEAN COMMUNITY", walford, G. (Ed.) Investigating Educational Policy Through Ethnography (Studies in Educational Ethnography, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 131-151. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1529-210X(03)08007-0

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2003, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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