Promise and protection: New Guinea Villagers and the Role of Christianity during the Pacific War

Christine Winter

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the role of Christianity as a survival strategy in wartime New Guinea for villagers facing an unprecedented influx of outsiders, in addition to fighting, bombing raids, and requisitions of resources on their land. Further, the Pacific War ruptured connections for New Guineans on many levels. This chapter argues that in the absence of colonial officials and missionaries, villagers can be seen to actively shape connections to incoming strangers and negotiate survival. This somewhat brief period, about which the colonial and mission archives are mostly silent, enables us to detect what I would argue was always happening: proactive negotiations, the creation of connections and shared ground so that the villages
could continue under, with, and against outside demands to provide shelter,
sustenance, and community.
In this chapter I explore village Christianity as a survival strategy. This chapter does not suggest that villagers expected all strangers streaming into the area to be Christians. Rather, I argue that New Guineans were relying on the promise the mission
machinery had made that as Christian communities they would deserve and
demand respect.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTranspacific Visions
Subtitle of host publicationConnected Histories of the Pacific across North and South
EditorsYasuko Hassall Kobayashi, Shinnosuke Takahashi
Place of PublicationUnited States of America
Number of pages25
ISBN (Electronic)9781793621337
ISBN (Print)9781793621344 , 9781793621320
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2021


  • Pacific history
  • Pacific War
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Lutheranism
  • Australian history
  • German history
  • Japanese army
  • World War 2
  • mission history
  • religious studies
  • identity and difference


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