Roberto Colombo is a PhD candidate researching codes of revenge ('payback') and codes of hospitality. He wrote asking me if I 'd encountered evidence of a ‘culture of hospitality’ amongst Bougainvilleans. I replied as you will see below, and opened Roberto's enquiry to ask our readers to respond in terms of Melanesian (not just Bougainvillean) hospitality. I hope you can contribute
| ROBERTO COLOMBO
GLASGOW - I am a PhD student at the University of Glasgow in the United Kingdom and currently working on a thesis which explores the ways in which traditional socio-cultural codes shape the dynamics of civil wars and insurgencies.
I’m reaching out because I've read with interest your articles on Bougainville, which I am considering using as a case study to show how socio-cultural codes provided the Bougainville Revolutionary Army and the Bougainville Resistance Force elements with mechanisms for recruitment and support during the civil war of 1988-98.
Specifically, I am looking at the code of revenge (or 'payback') and code of hospitality.
Regarding the latter, I have found very little in the existing literature.
May I ask whether you encountered evidence of a ‘culture of hospitality’ practiced amongst Bougainvilleans, similar to the codes and concepts of hospitality characterising other cultures, such as Bedouin/Arab tribes, Corsica or the Caucasus?
It would help me greatly in my research planning!
Keith Jackson writes:
Some years later, I took up my career in broadcasting and moved to Kieta to manage Radio Bougainville. It was 1970 and the people were agitated about the mining that was about to take place at Panguna and for which considerable tracts of land were being acquired by Bougainville Copper Limited against the wishes of the people of Central Bougainville.
As most readers will know, some years later this led to a disastrous civil war.
That said, at a personal level, I found the Bougainville people always treated me with kindness and respect. The radio station was in Central Bougainville and many of the people we lived amongst saw it as a ‘propaganda machine’ for the colonial Administration and the copper company. Never were they hostile to me, my family nor Radio Bougainville employees.
Early in my three years at the station, I made changes to its programming to render our news and information broadcasts more even-handed, and this was well received by the people. To further signal our goodwill, I also employed two broadcast trainees from the local Nasioi people.
If any readers would like to share their thoughts on Melanesian hospitality, and whether perhaps it has changed over the years, I encourage you to comment below or get in direct touch with Roberto Colombo at [email protected]