Grass Roots and Deep Holes: Community Responses to Mining in Melanesia

This introduction contextualizes the discussion of community responses to mining in Melanesia by looking first at the policies of minerals extraction and the shift of academic interest from economic development to the social effects of mining. As this collection concentrates on Papua New Guinea, an analysis of the sector and its problems in that country is briefly contrasted with the situation in other Pacific Island nations, canvassing the idea that the economic "resource curse" might have a social dimension. The varying interpretations of local impact and anthropological studies have challenged notions of unified interest or consensus at the local level, revealing ambivalence and contradictions. An overview of the contributions made in this special issue to current debates about stakeholder interests and economic sustainability is presented, showing that understandings of mining and its social consequences at each stage of the process are always inflected by the cultural conceptions of change, wealth, and resources that obtain in a community.