Assembling Resistance Against Large-Scale Land Deals: Challenges for Conflict Transformation in Bougainville, Papua New Guinea

Anne Hennings


Responding to the academic void on the impact of socio-ecological conflicts on peacebuilding and conflict transformation, I turn to resistance against large-scale land acquisitions in post-war contexts. Promising in terms of reconstruction and economic prosperity, the recent rush on land may, however, entail risks for reconciliation processes and long-term peace prospects. With reference to post-war Bougainville – as yet an autonomous province of Papua New Guinea – the article aims to conceptualize the impact of resistance against large-scale land deals on conflict transformation processes. Applying assemblage theory thereby allows not only analyzing multilayered dynamics in post-conflict societies but also new perspectives on socio-ecological conflicts. The findings suggest increasing resistance, for example, advocacy politics, demonstrations or sit-ins, against land deals and state territorialization in Bougainville with resemblances to pre-war contentious politics against Panguna mine. Yet, the lasting war trauma, a high weapon prevalence, and growing social friction add to destructive deterritorialization processes that are currently slowed down by the upcoming independence referendum.


Assemblage; Conflict Transformation; Land Grabbing; Papua New Guinea; Resistance

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