Materializing the Nation

Materializing the Nation

Commodities, Consumption, and Media in Papua New Guinea
Robert J. Foster
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 10/24/2002
Format: Paperback 30 b&w photos, 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-21549-9
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Foster shows us how seemingly banal activities like making a phone call, chewing betel nut, watching a Coke commercial may give important insights into the ways in which the nation is constructed, materialized or contested."—Orvar Löfgren, author of On Holiday: A History of Vacationing

Why, in the current era of globalization, does nationality remain an important dimension of personal and collective identities? In Materializing the Nation, Robert J. Foster argues that the contested process of nation making in Papua New Guinea unfolds not only through organized politics but also through mundane engagements with commodities and mass media. He offers a thoughtful critique of recent approaches to nationalism and consumption and an ethnographic perspective on constructs of the nation found in official policy documents, letters to the editor, school textbooks, song lyrics, advertisements, and other materials. This volume will appeal to readers interested in the links among nationalism, consumption, and media, in Melanesia and elsewhere.

Author Bio

Robert J. Foster is Professor of Anthropology and Mercer Brugler Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Rochester. He is author of Social Reproduction and History in Melanesia and Coca-Globalization: Following Soft Drinks from New York to New Guinea and editor of Nation Making: Emergent Identities in Postcolonial Melanesia.


“Why, in the current era of globalization, does nationality remain a relevant dimension of personal and collective identities? Through a critique of recent approaches to nationalism and consumption and a focus on nation making in Papua New Guinea, Foster highlights the instrumental roles of commercial media and commodity consumption in producing images and ideals of nationhood.”

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Introduction: Everyday Nation Making: The Case of Papua New Guinea
1. Take Care of Public Telephones: Moral Education and Nation-State Formation
2. Your Money, Our Money, the Government's Money: Finance and Fetishism in Melanesia
3. Print Advertisements and Nation Making
4. Commercial Mass Media: Notes on Agency, Bodies, and Commodity Consumption
5. The Commercial Construction of 'New' Nations
6. News of the World: Millenarian Christianity and the Olympic Torch Relay
7. Globalization: A Soft Drink Perspective