By Michael Goddard

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Additional resources for Unseen City: Anthropological Perspectives on Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Sample text

Despite the increasing complexity in the mixture of housing in the contemporary city, however, the discursive dichotomisation of the city’s habitats into legitimate housing and ‘settlements’ has survived from colonial times. I will now turn to this dichotomy and the attendant imagery that links migrants, unemployment and crime to a particular type of urban habitat, and examine its resilience in the face of empirical change. The resilient imagery of settlements The generalised European imagery of settlements in the late colonial period was of a spatially separate and disorderly collection of habitats implying the social distance of the people who occupied From Rolling Thunder to Reggae 33 them, as we have seen.

As Oram has pointed out, the distribution of housing areas in Port Moresby by the end of the colonial period did not conform to any recognisable spatial theory (Oram 1976a: 100). There were ‘high- From Rolling Thunder to Reggae 25 covenant’ housing areas occupied almost exclusively by Europeans, low-covenant planned estates such as the ‘partially integrated’ (Stuart 1970: 307) suburb of Hohola with a few Europeans but mostly housing Papua New Guineans, cheaper rental housing, self-help (‘no-covenant’) housing areas, the original settlements, company compounds and domestic quarters.

And regular occupational contact and interaction did not guarantee friendly socialising outside working hours. But the image of social proximity, however limited, was in contrast with that engendered for Europeans by the migrant settlements on customary and government land and the self-help 26 The Unseen City housing areas, a little more removed from the elite European housing estates and rarely entered by whites. The initial small settlements that appeared in the immediate postwar period had been neatly laid out (Oram 1976a: 185), but they took on an increasingly untidy appearance as they grew.

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