Blood, Faith & Fire
25 January 2011
kinship & conflict
TM: Do you have any Asian friends in Goroka ?
Market woman: No.
TM: Do you buy goods from their [Asian] shops?
Market woman: Yes, sometimes.
TM: Do you say hello when you go into the shop?
Market woman: I don't say hello to them - I just go and buy their goods and come out.
TM: So if they went away from Goroka then you have nowhere to buy your goods?
Market woman: Yeah, that's true too.
TM: Is that a problem?
Market woman: Yeah, it's a problem too.
TM: But you still want them to go?
Market woman: Yeah.
This exchange in Goroka market is typical of the social distance between native Papua New Guineans and migrants from different parts of Asia. It helps explain why locals rarely feel they need to distinguish between Filipinos, Indonesians, Chinese, Malaysians and so on. Whether they resent the competition from the new merchants or their consumer goods that are 'cheap' in price and quality, the highly visible newcomers are all 'Asians'.