Accepted paper:

Remembering, reclaiming and reinventing Sister Elizabeth Crouch: pioneer nurse in the PNG Highlands

Author:

Susan Hemer (University of Adelaide)

Paper short abstract:

This paper reflects on the process of remembering and reclaiming the dead through the lens of biography. How might biography be a way of enlivening the dead without fixing a singular trajectory and identity on those who have gone before us?

Paper long abstract:

This paper reflects on the process of remembering and enlivening the dead through the lens of biography; in particular, the biography of Sister Elizabeth (Betty) Crouch who worked for 25 years as a nurse and Baptist missionary in the Papua New Guinea Highlands. Betty died more than ten years ago, but left traces in various libraries and archives, in recorded cassettes and newspaper stories. Heritage research in this case has been an unfamiliar terrain for an anthropologist used to conversing with the living. These records tell a partial, sometimes contradictory story full of silences and multiple voices. Betty emerges as dedicated nurse, devoted to God, a feminist, an adoptive mother, a purveyor of fossils and a champion of PNG culture: as indefatigable yet ultimately vulnerable. How might biography be a way of enlivening the dead without falsely assuming coherence by fixing a singular trajectory and identity on those who have gone before us?

panel P12
Enlivening the dead: anthropology and heritage