Visualising the subject of development: 1950s government film-making in the territories of Papua and New Guinea

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Landman, Jane (2010) Visualising the subject of development: 1950s government film-making in the territories of Papua and New Guinea. Journal of Pacific History , 45 (1). pp. 71-88. ISSN 0022-3344 (print) 1469-9605 (online)


This paper examines a significant body of government documentaries made in Papua and New Guinea, focusing on those works produced in the late 1950s and 1960s that visually report on those policies and practices of development that were part of Australia's trust responsibilities. It traces the political, institutional and administrative negotiations that determined the semantics and rhetoric of the visual and aural modes deployed to represent the Australian work of development of the Territories and its peoples. While these films were instrumental public relations projects, those involved in their production carefully negotiated the field of their representations and the interrelations between ‘actuality’ and policy, a caution bred, at least in part, in view of their envisaged status as part of PNG's history. These flawed and compromised projects provide visible evidence of the interrelated stylistic and political challenges of attempting to visualise development positively during a time when the Trust discourse on racial relations was entangled in broader Cold War contestation about freedom, directed self-determination and the path towards capitalist modernity in the decolonising Asia/Pacific region.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/00223344.2010.484171
Official URL
Subjects Historical > Faculty/School/Research Centre/Department > School of Communication and the Arts
Historical > FOR Classification > 2001 Communication and Media Studies
Historical > SEO Classification > 970120 Expanding Knowledge in Language, Communication and Culture
Keywords ResPubID20990, Papua and New Guinea history, race relations, colonial administration, documentary films, Australian films, indigenous peoples, motion pictures
Citations in Scopus 8 - View on Scopus
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