In the shadow of industry: A study of culturization in Papua New Guinea

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The activities of extractive industry have recently been framed by a language of corporate social responsibility that relies on a system of legibility and objectification. This process reifies 'cultural units', abstracting them from the rules of kinship, migration, and exchange that ensure social and economic security. I refer to this process and the ideology of 'development' that accompanies it as culturization and examine it in the context of oil extraction in Papua New Guinea's Kutubu region. Drawing on debates on the indigenization and politicization of 'culture', I present culturization as a process that relies on rules of inheritance and property to impose a structure of difference in contexts of extractive industry that ignores the intricacies of sociality that ultimately give life meaning. The aim of the paper is to both illustrate the consequences of this process and consider cognate ideas of 'culture' vis-à-vis 'sociality' to emphasize their mutual theoretical importance to contemporary anthropological inquiry.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-278
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2013

Cite this