This paper explores how Melanesian villagers have harnessed modern, technological ways of seeing. It begins by analysing the politics and narrative structures of dreams and popular stories about secret photos concerning the dead. These are stories about losing control and regaining hidden, alternative representations of Melanesians. I then analyse how millenarian followers have experimented with ‘constructing’ their own versions of cameras, televisions and videos so as to gain access to the omniscient powers of modern technology and merge them with those of a Christian god and with the gaze of the dead. In the Pomio Kivung movement, ‘televisions’ and ‘videos’ have even been used to create new forms of moral surveillance for policing and governing communities. Here the customary shamanic worlds of dreams and possession have been modernised and redeployed to re-mediate the governmental practices and disciplinary schemes of civilisating projects originally belonging to Western churches and government.
Australian Journal of Anthropology Vol. 17, Issue 1, p. 15-31