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

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On the 16th September 1975, the territories of Papua and New Guinea, were granted simultaneous independence as a single country, Papua New Guinea (PNG). In the months leading up to PNG’s independence, Josephine Abaijah, leader of the Papua Besena separatist movement and the first woman to be elected to the territories House of Assembly, unilaterally declared Papua's independence from Australia. Bougainvillean leaders, Leo Hannet and John Momis, subsequently followed suit declaring Bougainville “The North Solomons Republic”. Both secessionist movements, whilst unsuccessful, left a distinct hand mark on the PNG state in the form of provincial governments and decentralised service delivery arrangements.
Still today, micro-nationalist movements continue to disrupt and shape the PNG state and are driving key reform agendas. Through a series of case studies this course will examine the key nationalist movements that emerged pre- and post-independence. It will look at how these movements were articulated, the state response in each case, and how these responses (provincial government, decentralisation, special autonomy, special provisions with respect to employment and service delivery, new provinces, greater autonomy for key resource-rich provinces through gradated decentralisation etc) have and continue to shape the PNG state.


  1. Papua Besena
  2. Bougainville
  3. Mataungan - East New Britain
  4. Paliau - Manus
  5. New Ireland
  6. Hela
  7. Enga
  8. Min

Learning outcomes 

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

  1. Understand how cosmology and identity are articulated in nationalist movements in PNG
  2. Be familiar with the key micro-nationalist movements which have shaped the PNG state
  3. Identify movements which continue to challenge the integrity of the PNG state
  4. Understand the current reform landscape and how it relates to micro-nationalist politics

Indicative assessment

Comparative analytical piece (2000 words) 60%; Links to learning outcome 1, 2, 3 and 4

Political brief and situation analysis (1500 words) 40%; Links to learning outcome 1, 2, 3 and 4

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: DPA09

  • 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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