The Latest on the Lowy…

July 4, 2007 at 4:18 am (Uncategorized)

I just thought you may be interested to know that I have been back to the Lowy Institute since Warwick and I debated its capacity to produce independent research, and certainly my own position/impression has not changed. I attended the Wednesday lunch seminar last week. The presentation, by ANU anthropologist Dr Abby McLeod, was very loosely about the elections in Papua New Guinea that took place over the weekend, and more directly about some of the cultural, economic, and geographic factors contributing to PNG’s complicated systems of exchange and power. Dr McLeod’s insights were really interesting, and not at all prescriptive. I’ve been to PNG, and I loved it, so more than anything her presentation just gave me a better grasp of some of the country’s often misunderstood and heavily criticised negotiations of control. What we might think of simply as ‘corruption’ is in fact often part of a very layered tribal system of reciprocity, and I came away thinking again that our system of democracy can’t simply dismiss nuances like these in PNG’s fledgling version/s of democracy. We have to try to understand and respect such differences – there’s really no need, nor should there be any expectation, for PNG’s democracy to exactly mirror our own. Anyway, not only did the Lowy provide food for lunch, it again provided more food for thought.

Frustratingly, Llew and I missed out on places for tomorrow morning’s ‘Distinguished Speakers’ presentation by Federal Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd. The Lowy’s online RSVP system collapsed under the strain of people rushing to fill the places, and we did not make it in. This makes me want to scream, but screaming changes nothing. I’m still not going. Llew passes the Lowy on his way to work each day, so he’s inclined to just try anyway in the morning, so I’ll let you know if he succeeds in getting in. Clearly we’re not the only ones who attend these Lowy presentations who are interested in what Kevin Rudd has to say.

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