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Appropriation of space and water in informal urban settlements of Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

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Author(s): Jaka Repič

Journal: Anthropological Notebooks
ISSN 1408-032X

Volume: 17;
Issue: 3;
Start page: 73;
Date: 2011;
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Keywords: Port Moresby | appropriation | space | water | informal urban settlements

ABSTRACT
This article examines inter-group relations in Port Moresby’s informal urban settlement (slum) Two Mile, through perspective of appropriation of space and water. Since the 1960s, steady rural-to-urban migration to Papua New Guinea’s capital has resulted in the emergence of urban slums that have become home to numerous small communities or social networks. They are marginal urban spaces of intense social interactions, which redefine traditional identities and construct urban social networks. Relations between the communities are manifested in the settlements’ (illegal) water supply. Water pipes are clearly visible, laid on the surface, and form an extensive network. The appropriation of water connections is a common practice in Port Moresby’s urban settlements with even political campaigns sometimes revolving around legalising existing or establishing new water connections. In the Two Mile settlement, the network of water distribution and the appropriation of space between the different groups represent spatial concepts of home and a system of urban socio-cultural identity. The appropriation and construction of water connections thus symbolises the delineation, organisation and appropriation of urban space in the settlement.
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