« Asia and the Pacific/Politics and Nature of the State

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Bougainville held its referendum on independence from Papua New Guinea in November 2019. The option for independence won by an overwhelming majority. With this, Papua New Guinea and Bougainville enter an unprecedented phase in their history. How did this happen? Where does it lead? How does what has happened in Bougainville relate to the broader context of Papua New Guinea, Melanesia and the region? These are challenging and as yet not fully answered questions now faced by Bougainvilleans, Papua New Guineans, and also their neighbours, including Australia. This micro-credential aims to provide its participants with a strong knowledge base from which to understand and participate in the conversations now taking place regarding the future of Bougainville.
In this micro-credential we will examine the origins of Bougainville nationalism and situate it within the context in which it emerged: colonial and post-colonial Papua New Guinea. We will follow the history of the Bougainville conflict, or kraisis, and the decade-long search for peace, and compare the development of these political movements and those elsewhere in PNG. Careful attention will be paid to the political dynamics in the period after the establishment of the Autonomous Bougainville Government, to seek to understand how a once radical position became de facto government policy. Finally, we will examine the referendum vote itself and its implications.


  1. Driman (dream): the significance of the Bougainvillean referendum
  2. Gavman blo mipela (our government): the context and origins of Bougainvillean nationalism.
  3. Kraisis na bel isi (crisis and peace): the Bougainville Conflict and peace process
  4. Otonamas i stap pinis (autonomy is here): Autonomous Bougainville Government
  5. Vot blo yumi (our vote): the referendum, its administration and politics
  6. Bruklus? (Indepence?): challenges of the post-referendum period

Learning outcomes 

Upon successful completion, enrollees will have the knowledge and skills to: 

  1. Describe the aspects of Bougainville’s political development and current constitutional arrangements
  2. Identify the factors driving secessionism and the consolidation of political movements in Bougainville
  3. Contrast and compare the factors at play in subnationalist politics in Bougainville with those elsewhere in Papua New Guinea
  4. Achieve understanding of the complexities involved in the relationship between Papua New Guinea and Bougainville
  5. Understand and describe the key political challenges facing Australia, Papua New Guinea and Bougainville as it enters a period of transition.
  6. Present their analysis in a cogent and structured way

Indicative assessment

Bougainville Brief: 30%; Links to LO: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Scenario analysis: 70%; Links to LO: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6

Assumed knowledge 

This Micro-credential is taught at graduate level and assumes the generic skills of a Bachelors or equivalent. 

Micro-credential stack information 

 This Micro-credential is currently not part of a stack.


  • Course Code: DPA10

  • Workload: Contact hours: 12 hours, face-to-face or online (eg via Zoom). Individual study and assessment: approx. 50-60 hours.

  • ANU unit value: 3 units

  • Course Code Level: 8000

  • Contact:  ANU Department of Pacific Affairs: dpa@anu.edu.au

This Micro-credential is taught at a graduate level.  This is not an AQF qualification. 

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