Abstract

Publications about aspects of life or the natural environment in Papua New Guinea have won important prizes overseas, generally for the anthropological studies or scientific or other discoveries they report, not their literary qualities. Recent, outstanding recipients of significant, international prizes include the joint winner of the 1976 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, D. Carleton Gajdusek (for research on kuru), and the winner of the 1998 Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction, Jared Diamond, author of Guns, Germs and Steel: A Short History of Everybody for the Last 13,000 Years (1997). Other reports of work in or closely relevant to Papua New Guinea have been recognised in the awards made to fourteen or more of the eighty-plus winners of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s (2006) Rivers Memorial Medal, which was originally given specifically for ‘anthropological work in the field’ (a method of study which owes much to pioneering research in Papua New Guinea), and five gold medallists of the Royal Geographical Society (2006). The latter include the first Administrator of the British New Guinea colony, Sir William MacGregor, for ‘exploring, mapping and giving information on the natives’; C.H. Karius for the first expedition to cross from the Fly to the Sepik Rivers in 1926–28 (recounted by his companion, Ivan Champion, in Champion [1932]); and Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau inventor of the aqualung, underwater photographer, conservationist, and prolific author (‘Jacques-Yves Cousteau’, 2006), for ‘underwater exploration’. Among women who have written about Papua New Guinea, Margaret Mead, winner of the United Nations Educational and Scientific Organisation’s Kalinga Prize (among others), stands out as ‘arguably the most renowned anthropologist of all time’ (‘Margaret Mead. 1901–1979’, 2006) — author of forty-four books and more than 1,000 articles, including at least seven books which deal substantially with Papua New Guinean topics (‘Margaret Mead (1901–1978)’, 2006).

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