A key part of any process of decolonisation is the need for the emerging nation to determine the rules for citizenship. In Papua New Guinea, what it meant to be a citizen was the first topic that the Constitutional Planning Committee considered when it set about its task to develop a ‘home grown’ constitution in late 1972. The process by which it first comprehended this matter and then involved thousands of Papua New Guineans in their villages, missions and schools in a territory-wide exercise in consultation forms the subject of this paper. The records of the discussions that took place between February and April of 1973 reveal much of how the criteria for membership of the national enterprise came to be established. This case study of defining citizenship in PNG demonstrates the intensive consultation of the local peoples on key issues in nation-building and reveals the high degree of Indigenous agency in the decolonisation process.
Field of Research
210313 Pacific History (excl New Zealand and Maori)
Socio Economic Objective
970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology
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