Agency, affect and archaeologists: Transforming place with rock art in auwim, upper karawari-arafundi region, east sepik, Papua new Guinea

Roxanne Tsang, Liam M. Brady, Sebastien Katuk, Paul S.C. Taçon, François Xavier Ricaut, Matthew G. Leavesley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Contemporary narratives and interpretations surrounding rock art production in present-day settings provide important insights into rock art practices in the past and present. These traditions can still be seen today in places such as Africa, South America, Australia and Papua New Guinea (PNG). In PNG’s East Sepik region, rock art stencils are still produced by the Auwim people of the Upper Karawari-Arafundi region. This paper presents a case study from Apuranga rock art site in Auwim village, East Sepik, where Auwim artists created stencils during a period of archaeological research in June 2018. Interviews with the Auwim artists revealed the stencils were made to transform a once-feared rockshelter into a place that the community could use again without fear or trepidation. This paper explores the implications of these events, the mechanisms for the rock art creation, the impact of researcher’s presence, and their broader relevance to studies of rock art in contemporary settings. We argue that contemporary rock art creation in Auwim is embedded in a network of relationships that involve oral traditions, place-making strategies and emotional responses such as overcoming fear.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-194
Number of pages12
JournalRock Art Research
Volume38
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We especially thank the Auwim community for their support, hospitality and generosity during our visit between May to June of 2018. Funding for this fieldwork was supported by National Geographic Society Grant (HJ-156R-17 to F-X. R.) for the project ‘Prehistory of the Karawari region in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea’ (2018). We also thank various funders of the broader project, the French National Research Agency, the French Ministry for Europe, and Foreign Affairs (France), the French Embassy in Papua New Guinea, and University of Papua New Guinea. Thanks are extended to the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute and Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery for their partnership support. We also thank Professor Hubert Forestier, Professor Joakim Goldhahn, Dr Sébastien Plutniak, William Pleiber and Jason Kariwiga for guidance and motivational discussions. Dr Sally K. May and Emily Miller (Griffith University) are thanked for providing useful comments on drafts of the paper. Dr Andrea Jalandoni and Maria Kottermair are thanked for producing Figure 1. LMB’s position is funded through an Australian Research Council Future Fellow grant (FT180100038). PSCT’s position is funded by an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship (FL160100123). Lastly, we are most grateful to the two anonymous RAR reviewers who took the time out to critically read and provide valuable Roxanne Tsang 1, 2, Prof. Liam M. Brady 3, Sebastien Katuk 4, Prof. Paul S. C. Taçon 5, Dr François-Xavier Ricaut 6 and Dr Matthew G. Leavesley 2, 7 1 School of Humanities, Languages and Social Science, Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland 4222, Australia. roxanne.tsang@ griffithuni.edu.au 2Archaeology, School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Papua New Guinea, Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea 3 College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences, Flinders University, Bedford Park, South Australia, Australia 5042. liam.brady@flinders.edu.au 4Auwim village, Upper Karawari-Arafundi Region, East Sepik, Papua New Guinea 5 Place, Evolution and Rock Art Heritage Unit, Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research, Griffith University, Gold Coast Campus, Queensland 4222, Australia. p.tacon@griffith. edu.au 6 Laboratoire Évolution et Diversité Biologique (EDB Science UMR 5174), Université de Toulouse Midi-Pyrénées, CNRS, IRD, UPS, Toulouse, France. francois-xavier.ricaut@univ-tlse3.fr 7 College of Arts, Society & Education, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland4811, Australia.ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage, University of Wollongong, Wollongong, New South Wales, 2522, Australia. matthew.leavesley@gmail.com

Funding Information:
for this fieldwork was supported by National Geographic Society Grant (HJ-156R-17 to F-X. R.) for the project ?Prehistory of the Karawari region in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea? (2018). We also thank various funders of the broader project, the French National Research Agency, the French Ministry for Europe, and Foreign Affairs (France), the French Embassy in Papua New Guinea, and University of Papua New Guinea. Thanks are extended to the Papua New Guinea National Research Institute and Papua New Guinea National Museum and Art Gallery for their part-nership support. We also thank Professor Hubert Forestier, Professor Joakim Goldhahn, Dr S?bastien Plutniak, William Pleiber and Jason Kariwiga for guidance and motivational discussions. Dr Sally K. May and Emily Miller (Griffith University) are thanked for providing useful comments on drafts of the paper. Dr Andrea Jalandoni and Maria Kottermair are thanked for producing Figure 1. LMB?s position is funded through an Australian Research Council Future Fellow grant (FT180100038). PSCT?s position is funded by an Australian Research Council Laureate Fellowship (FL160100123). Lastly, we are most grateful to the two anonymous RAR reviewers who took the time out to critically read and provide valuable comments/advice to especially restructure and improve this paper. Griffith University is thanked for supporting RT?s research project and this current article.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021, Australian Rock Art Research Association. All rights reserved.

Keywords

  • Affect
  • Agency
  • Ethnography
  • Papua New Guine
  • Relatedness
  • Rock art

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