I’m very proud of this special issue on Bernard Narokobi

After many years of work by my co-editor Lise Dobrin and myself (well, really, mostly Lise) as well as our authors, I am very proud to announce that we have published a special issue of the Journal of Pacific History on “The Legacy of Bernard Narokobi and the Melanesian Way”.

This is really special for me since I’ve been interested in Narokobi’s thought ever since I first encountered it. He is the kind of thinker who pulls you in. What’s more, I visited Narokobi’s village in the late 1990s when Lise was doing fieldwork there on his native language, Arapesh. I’m so proud to have published it in the JPH, which is such a classic journal and once which I have so often over the years — it’s not too much to say that one of my life goals has been met now that I’ve published there!

This collection is special because of how it deals with all aspects of Narokobi’s life. Jonathan Ritche and I cover the early part of his career. Vergil Narokobi, his son, discusses his legal thought. Philip Gibs discusses Narokobi’s Catholicism, and Ira Bashkow and Greg Bablis help contextualise Narokobi’s life by discussing the context he grew up in, as well as the legacy he left behind.

It was great to have two Papua New Guinean intellectuals involved in this project — and not just any intellectuals, but Arapesh thinkers (including Bernard’s son, Vergil) with kin ties to Narokobi. It’s a testament to Lise’s commitment to Wautogik, Narokobi’s village, that she came to the village decades ago as a linguist to record phonetic barred I and ended up producing this volume. I hope we inspire many other anthropologists and historians from the US to undertake this kind of work in the future.