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Missionaries, marxists and misfits

by
April 2005, no. 270

Bamahuta: Leaving Papua by Philip Fitzpatrick

Pandanus, $29.95pb, 313 pp

Missionaries, marxists and misfits

by
April 2005, no. 270

Papua New Guinea is definitely not one of the grand colonial stories. There is no tradition of empire, no tales of the raj, to be glorified or excoriated by historians and other nostalgics. Mostly, the various German, Australian and Japanese colonial administrations were not infrequently racist and stupid, often brutal and overwhelmingly unimaginative. Australia’s colonising and neo-colonising of what has become PNG was always, and still is, principally focused on its security interests, not on bringing civilisation to noble savages or developing a thriving economy. The colonial Australians who ventured into the oppressive heat, spectacular mountains, awesome rainforests and malarial swamps mostly comprised parsimonious bureaucrats, rugged patrol officers, no-nonsense police, Christian evangelists, and fugitives of pretty well every kind – ‘missionaries, marxists, and misfits’, as the saying goes.

Allan Patience reviews ‘Bamahuta: Leaving Papua’ by Philip Fitzpatrick

Bamahuta: Leaving Papua

by Philip Fitzpatrick

Pandanus, $29.95pb, 313 pp

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