Bosmun Notions of Ageing in Transition (Ramu River, Papua New Guinea)

The aim of my post-doctoral project is to analyse how transregional and global forces are transforming local notions of ageing among the Bosmun, a group of approximately 1500 people, who dwell alongside the lower reaches of the Ramu River in Northeast Papua New Guinea. Within the past fifty years, there has been a sharp rise in population numbers, which had the effect that older Bosmun are increasingly outnumbered by the younger generation. At the same time, knowledge transfer has shifted: whereas in former times, older members were responsible for educating the younger and thus shaping the social, moral, and political life-world, now educational transfer is directly aimed at the younger generation from the outside (e.g. via new political structures promoted by the nation-state, a western-based schooling system, or access to modern medical facilities). Therefore, the role of the elders has deteriorated and their competence for controlling the fates of the group has been taken away from them. Most recently, effects of globalisation also have an impact on the construction of self-images, and it is important to investigate accompanying problems.

This project is carried out in cooperation with the Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research in Rostock, Germany. It is part of the Max Planck International Research Network on Aging (MaxNetAging).

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