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Gunnar Landtman in Papua

Gunnar Landtman in Papua: 1910 to 1912 OPEN ACCESS

DAVID LAWRENCE
with assistance from Pirjo Varjola
Copyright Date: 2010
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt24h7nn
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  • Book Info
    Gunnar Landtman in Papua
    Book Description:

    Despite poverty and neglect the coastal Kiwai of the northern Torres Strait and Fly estuary are a strong and vibrant people with a long tradition of work in the marine industries of the Torres Strait. Regrettably their current social, economic and political problems are marginal to both Papua New Guinea and Australia. Gunnar Landtman's research, undertaken between 1910 and 1912, is still a foundation stone for understanding the position of the Kiwai today. In those two years in Papua, Landtman managed to record a large collection of valuable legends and stories, many of which are still told today. He travelled widely throughout the Torres Strait, the southwest coast of Papua and the Fly estuary and even to the Gulf District. He made a comprehensive collection of Kiwai material culture now housed in the Museum of Cultures in Helsinki and a second, duplicate set for the Cambridge Museum. He also collected some of the earliest examples of Gogodala material culture available for research. In 1913, he published, Nya Guinea färden [New Guinea expedition], a detailed travelogue of his work and life among the Kiwai and, while he wrote a substantial corpus of work on the Kiwai in English, Swedish and Finnish over the next twenty years, this personal account in Swedish has not been translated into English before. It forms a crucial link between Landtman's serious academic works and his intimate personal journey of discovery. The aim of this book is to bring the personal face of the serious anthropologist to greater attention. David Lawrence began studying the Gunnar Landtman collections held by the National Museum of Finland when he was researching customary exchange across the Torres Strait for his doctorate at James Cook University. He was also fortunate to be able to spend two years of fieldwork in the Fly estuary region and visited nearly all the communities described by Landtman. He is a Visiting Fellow at the Resource Management in Asia/Pacific program of The Australian National University and has published works on Kakadu National Park and the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park.  

    eISBN: 978-1-921666-13-1
    Subjects: Anthropology
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Table of Contents

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  1. Although the title of his landmark study was The Kiwai Papuans of British New Guinea (Landtman 1927), the southeastern part of the island of New Guinea officially became Papua in 1906 when administrative responsibility for the colony passed from the Colonial Office in London to the Commonwealth Government of the newly federated Australia. The Western Division of Papua where Landtman undertook his research between 1910 and 1912 was administrated from a small colonial outpost on the offshore island of Daru. Although the region is now the Western Province of Papua New Guinea, Daru remains the administrative centre for the vast,...

  2. Gunnar Landtman was particularly concerned with his personal correspondence while in Papua and made many references to the delays in receiving and sending mail from the isolated outposts along the Kiwai coast. The Landtman collection in the Museum of Cultures in Helsinki contains three folders of correspondence filed by Landtman himself. One folder (VKKA Landtman 1910–21) contains all the letters and postcards in English received from missionaries and trader contacts in the Torres Strait. Two other folders contain the correspondence in Swedish that Landtman sent to his father, his sisters Irene and Louisa and his aunt.

    Landtman’s family correspondence...

  3. Gunnar Landtman was an avid photographer as well as artefact collector and folklorist. By 1911 he had made a sufficient collection of glass-plate negatives to send back to his father in Helsinki. These plates were sent through his missionary friends at Badu from where Rosalie Walker, the wife of Rev. F. W. Walker, wrote thanking him for allowing them the opportunity of seeing the negatives and for giving the missionaries the chance to make prints if they wished (Landtman 1910–21: R. Walker 19 October 1911). In all, Landtman took over 500 photographs while in the field. During his expeditions...

  4. Gunnar Landtman was a dedicated and keen collector of artefacts. At first his collecting was carefully planned: ‘Right from the beginning, too, I endeavoured to found two distinct main collections the principal one for the National Museum at Helsingfors [Helsinki], in case a complete duplicate set was not obtainable, and a similar one for the Cambridge University Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology [Anthropology]’ (Landtman 1933: 10). However despite his plans Landtman could not control the accumulation of objects and when local people realised that he was paying good prices for artefacts he was inundated. Consequently, many objects are provenanced as...

  5. In his two years in Papua, Gunnar Landtman managed to record a large collection of valuable legends and stories, many of which are still told today. He travelled widely throughout the Torres Strait, southwest coast of Papua and the Fly estuary and even managed a short trip to the Gulf District. He made a comprehensive collection of Kiwai material culture now housed in the Museum of Cultures in Helsinki and a second, duplicate set for the Cambridge Museum. He also collected some of the earliest examples of Gogodala material culture available for research. He was remarkably productive. Landtman returned with...