Accepted Paper:

The Hidden Treasure of Historic Photographs from Papua New Guinea  


Jan Hasselberg

Paper short abstract:

The great volume of historic photographs from what today is Papua New Guinea have great (potential) importance for today’s local population and for academics. Focusing on images from the time just after contact I will discuss several aspects of this, using photographs from a great number of archives.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will point to the great volume of historic photographs from what today is Papua New Guinea, and show some aspects of their importance for today's Papua New Guineans, as well as for academics and the general public.

The paper is based on my research and visits to many archives in Europe and Australia carried out for a book I published last year and for an up-coming project, and on my intimate knowledge of some PNG communities.

The photographic collections kept at many different institutions world wide show a wide specter of themes and subjects, and in every collection there are hidden treasures to be found, whatever you are looking for. The agendas of photographers a century ago were often different from those of todays, but photos can be of interest even if we are critical to the reasons why, or the situations in which they were taken. Some have an academic interest, others will be important for the local communities, and some will be interesting for all.

I will comment on such topics with help of photographs from a wide specter of photographers, from many different archives, and taken in many different parts of PNG. I will concentrate on photos taken not too long after first contact. Extra attention will be given to the photographers Capt. F.R. Barton, Lajos Biró, Percy J. Money, Diamond Jenness and Hugo Bernatzik - each with a different set of agendas .

The availability of these historic records, in our digital age, will also be mentioned.

Panel P05
Reviving the archives as pictorial histories