Regina Knapp

Grant Type

Fejos Postdoctoral Fellowship

Institutional Affiliation

Independent Scholar

Grant number

Gr. 9887

Approve Date

October 9, 2019

Project Title

Knapp, Regina (Independent Scholar), "Revitalising Kula: Gift Exchange and the Global Economy in South-East Papua New Guinea"

This film project investigates questions of gift exchange and innovative strategies of culture change by following a research team of local chiefs and an anthropologist on two sea voyages around a ring of islands in the South Pacific: the Kula network in Papua New Guinea. In Kula exchange, two types of shell valuables are exchanged against each other within and between different island communities – but Kula is much more than that. Kula builds and strengthens social relationships between persons from distant places. It grants access to goods and services independently from money. However, influences of Western culture and economy are increasingly threatening Kula exchange today. Kula players complain about younger people’s declining interest in Kula. In order to save their cultural heritage for future generations, Kula chiefs set out to modify and revive their gift exchange. The film project follows the research team on their sea voyages and reveals the communities’ strategies to promote Kula: ranging from the documentation of Kula valuables to the development of ten custom-based Kula rules.This film project introduces the topic of Kula, shows the situation as it is today and gives insights into local and anthropological perspectives on and collaborative strategies of culture change. The project comprises of three films, aiming at different target groups: academics, islanders and a broader public.