Precarity and the State: The arrival of covid-19 in Papua New Guinea

Research output: Working paperResearch


This paper focuses on the initial phase of the Covid-19 pandemic in Papua New Guinea (March to September 2020), and the government’s response to the crisis. In examining on the one hand inadequate infrastructures, an insufficient healt system, law enforcement agencies afflicted by corruption and the us of brutality, and on the other the customs and traditions of Papua New Guineans, the authors conclude that the lockdowns and social distancing measures implemented around the world are not likely to be successful in Papua New Guinea. They point out that the Covid-19 issue in Papua New Guinea reveals an «already there» state of precarity that makes the distinction «now» and «then» of affluent countries meaningless. The normalcy that characterizes liberal democratic capitalism, or life without instability or precarity, is not normalcy in Papua New Guinea, where indeterminacy is less the exception than the prevailing condition of the times. At least Covid-19 has brought these inequalities starkly into view.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - 2023


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