Much of the literature on mining in Papua New Guinea is concerned with the politics of landowner compensation. In the case of the Ok Tedi mine, attention has focused largely on claims for downstream ecological damage and the ensuing settlement on behalf of people living along the Lower Ok Tedi. Like all major mines, however, Ok Tedi has produced a series of large-scale ripple effects throughout the surrounding region, both downstream and upstream. In this article I explore two decades of mine-related transformations among Telefolmin, one of several groups of Min people who are a major source of labor for the Ok Tedi mine. I argue that Ok Tedi provides Telefolmin with the ability to realize a particular form of modernity. For Telefolmin, however, this modernity is rendered insecure by their hinterland status and the prospect of mine closure, sharpening fears that the Telefol experience of modernity may be a fleeting one.


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pp. 233-263
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