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Papua New Guinea's Last Place

Papua New Guinea's Last Place

Adam Reed


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What kind of experience is incarceration? How should one define its constraints? The author, who conducted extensive fieldwork in a maximum-security jail in Papua New Guinea, seeks to address these questions through a vivid and sympathetic account of inmates' lives.

Prison Studies is a growing field of interest for social scientists. As one of the first ethnographic studies of a prison outside western societies and Japan, this book contributes to a reinterpretation of the field's scope and assumptions. It challenges notions of what is punitive about imprisonment by exploring the creative as well as negative outcomes of detention, separation and loss. Instead of just coping, the prisoners in Papua New Guinea's Last Place find themselves drawing fresh critiques and new approaches to contemporary living.

“Readers should know that Reed's book, even as it pushes the New Melanesian Ethnography forward in important ways, will also be of great value to those with little interest in that paradigm…he writes poignantly of [the prisoner's] need to forget and of the way dreams, visits, and other intrusions of the outside world make forgetting an ultimately impossible project. The book is studded with songs, poems, and dream accounts that make this argument wholly convincing and give the book a human immediacy that does not always mark the work of New Melanesian Ethnographers… There are many further complexities to Reed's account--powerful arguments about the nature of time both inside and outside prison, for example, and an interesting discussion of prison conversions..."  ·  Contemporary Pacific

"…a great strength of this book is its description of ideas that resonate all over the country…Reed’s writing is always lucid and often bold."  · JRAI

"The book corresponds well with recent studies that attempt to understand Papua New Guinea’s varied social scene and the political and economic realities of this recently independent country, and should be read by anyone interested in postcolonial conditions in Melanesia."  · Focaal

Adam Reed received his PhD from the University of Cambridge and is currently Lecturer in the Department of Social Anthropology at the University of St. Andrews.