A moral economy of the transnational Papua New Guinean household: solidarity and estrangement while ‘working other gardens’

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Transnational Papua New Guinean (PNG) household members provide for each other while making new forms of traditional marriage, often ensuing in changes to their access to land in their homelands in Papua New Guinea. They capture the sense of that experience of migration away from clan lands with the idiom ‘working other gardens’, by which they mean they have migrated from PNG to ‘other gardens’. Although they sustain their household’s livelihood as employees of firms and as parents of students, public speculation about Papua New Guineans’ reasons for taking up residence in Australia focuses wrongly on their geopolitical demographics rather than this moral economy of the transnational PNG household. Neither the state and its agencies nor the independent service providers, who assume the political economy of PNG-born residents in Australia is precarious given the transience and landlessness of the members of this community, grasp the moral economy of the transnational household. Contrary to the precarious political economy imagined by representatives of the state, ethnographic research reveals a moral economy of resilient solidarity within the transnational household, and that PNG women live at its centre, often having multiple residences, in PNG and Australia. Nevertheless it is one within which disaffected household members might find they are estranged from traditional land.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Quest for the Good Life in Precarious Times
Subtitle of host publicationEthnographic Perspectives on the Domestic Moral Economy
EditorsChris Gregory , Jon Altman
Place of PublicationCanberra
PublisherANU E Press
Pages105 - 138
Number of pages34
ISBN (Electronic)9781760462017
ISBN (Print)9781760462000
Publication statusPublished - 30 Nov 2017

Publication series

Namemonographs in Anthropology
PublisherANU Press

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