PhD Intro Kula Kalinoe

    Kula is a Papua New Guinean PhD Student at JCU. She is supervised by Professor Rosita Henry, Dr. Michael Wood, Professor Elizabeth Spencer and Professor Sam Kaipu (UPNG).

    After growing up in Port Moresby and witnessing its share of law-and-order issues, this instilled in Kula a passion for social justice and the provision of access to justice. This led her to complete a Law degree at JCU, then after completing Practical Legal Training she was admitted as a Solicitor to the Supreme Court of Queensland. Throughout the course of her studies Kula was a student volunteer at the Cairns Community Legal Centre and LawRight.

    In 2019 a chance encounter was the turning point for Kula when she came across a flyer at the JCU Library foyer that featured the Bragge Collection. The Bragge Collection contains more than 600 cultural artefacts from PNG and over 200 transcribed oral interviews from Sepik elders. Kula was intrigued and contacted the JCU Library to view the collection. This is how she met Professor Rosita Henry, who inspired and encouraged her to consider transitioning into legal anthropology. After a year of weighing up her options Kula completed a Graduate Certificate in Research Methods at JCU in 2020.

    Kula’s research project will have a legal anthropological focus and will aim to investigate cultural heritage issues that arise in museum, galleries and libraries. There will be a particular emphasis on collections from Papua New Guinea with a focus on the Bragge Collection. Currently there are no set guidelines in PNG to protect intangible cultural property in public institutions. Despite the absence of legislation, PNG recognises Customary Law that enables the use of traditional knowledge in matters of land ownership disputes. Kula will explore the possibilities of giving greater recognition to customary law concerning cultural heritage especially when that heritage is located in museums or other archives, like the JCU Bragge collection.

    2 people standing in amongst artefacts

    Kula’s research aims to create a new protocol that incorporates the views of the Sepik diaspora and Sepik source communities regarding the Bragge Collection. The diversity of indigenous groups and nations demands that solutions must come from local communities and must be tailored to each individual group. This is to ensure that their voices are heard and translated into protocols to safeguard their cultural property.

    woman outside building holding certificate

    This research project seeks to explore not only issues that arise in relation to Sepik collections held in archives, museums and galleries but also to address wider discussions and debates regarding collections that are of national and global significance. Issues regarding rights of access, repatriation and ownership will be analysed alongside Intellectual Property Rights laws, Cultural Heritage Laws and Customary laws to uncover how these cultural objects should be protected.

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