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The Wewak Rotary Club: The Middle Class in Melanesia

Frederick Errington and Deborah Gewertz
The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Vol. 3, No. 2 (Jun., 1997), pp. 333-353
DOI: 10.2307/3035023
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3035023
Page Count: 21
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
The Wewak Rotary Club: The Middle Class in Melanesia
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Abstract

Focused on the Rotary Club in Wewak, the capital of Papua New Guinea's East Sepik Province, this article examines emergent forms of stratification and, in particular, the Club's role in the development and operation of an indigenous middle class. We show that by stressing middle class sociality and generalized service to the community, the Rotary Club enabled affluent Papua New Guineans to overcome moral and strategic conflicts so that they were able to place their desire for lives of enhanced consumption over their obligations to kin. We also show how, in postcolonial Wewak, the Rotary Club allowed middle-class `nationals' and `expatriates' to assist one another in justifying the privileges which distinguished them from the `grass roots'. Finally, and most generally, we show why members of the middle class, such as the Rotarians upon whom we focus, had a particularly salient role in transforming Papua New Guinea.

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