Modernisation in diversified Papua New Guinea continues. Sociologists from WBU are studying it

International Science Employees

The possibility of uniting a nation in a culturally highly diversified country is one of the questions that sociologists focus on. Professor Dušan Lužný from the Department of Sociology and Social Work at the Faculty of Philosophy is a member of the research team, who focuses on Christianization.

"This was my fifth time in the province of East Sepik and I am still amazed," sociologist Dusan Luzny said, who has long been dedicated to religious studies and, along with colleagues from other universities, examines transformations of local traditions in the Melanesian region. "Thanks to our contacts with the people of the newly built hospital in the provincial centre of Wewak, which incidentally the Czechs were involved in building, we were able to attend a Christian funeral in a small village for several days. Although the inhabitants are all Catholic and part of the funeral took place in the local Catholic church, an important part of the funeral was various magical practices to protect the body and the whole village from evil sorcerers," explained Luzny.

Papua New Guinea has long been a relatively isolated region, but globalisation has transformed the country. The influence of China, or Chinese small and large companies, is clearly visible, even though the country has long been under the influence of European countries and Australia. "Unfortunately, it is still the case that Papua New Guinea is just a source of raw materials, and cheap human labour for multinational corporations," continues Luzny. However, the country is gaining a new, national self-confidence, which is also reflected in the ubiquitous national symbols, and in the clothing, which is in the national colours. The possibility of a single nation in a culturally very differentiated country is one of the issues on which the attention of sociologists is focused.

"In Papua New Guinea, it is evident how closely intertwined the processes of national self-consciousness and nation-state formation, modernization, globalization and Christianization are. After all, from this perspective, Christianity and nationalism are based on the same social foundations, i.e. on the idea of the existence of a community of people who do not know each other and are spatially very distant," continues Luzny, emphasizing the importance of a unified school system in this regard, as well as the penetration of new communication technologies that are bringing together formerly isolated villages in the Sepik River basin (but also in the mountainous areas) into a new community. Luzny has authored a number of technical studies on these topics and is preparing a research project that he will seek to support as part of the Expedition Neuron 2024 call.


Faculty of Arts

prof. PhDr. Dušan Lužný, Dr.

16. 04. 2024