Rosita contributed two objects of her own to the exhibition: a memoir titled A True Child of Papua New Guinea and a shawl worn by the memoir’s subject. This contribution represents the very beginnings of Rosita’s connection to PNG.
“My first trip to Papua New Guinea was in 1974, in my first year as an Anthropology student,” Rosita says. “I had a friend who lived up there, Maggie Wilson, and I kept my connection with her, her people and her village.
“After I completed my PhD at JCU, she invited me back to Papua New Guinea to do some research together on the topic of women in politics. We were really interested in women’s issues within her village.”
Sadly, Maggie passed away in 2009. Due to their strong friendship, Maggie’s family invited Rosita to finish her memoir. “I went to PNG every year for ten years, interviewing people and getting to know Maggie’s family, her place and what she had done there. She was a really powerful woman who started several businesses in the highlands of PNG, stood for elections — many things like that.
“Slowly, slowly over those ten years, between doing my other research and teaching, I finished Maggie’s memoir, A True Child of Papua New Guinea, which is now published. So, most of my work and connection to PNG is through my friend, Maggie Wilson.”
In addition to Maggie’s memoir and shawl, Rosita also screened the first half of a documentary she made called Bride Price, which documented a significant occasion for members of Maggie’s family. Being able to share tangible expressions of her connection to PNG and its people is something Rosita describes as powerful.
“Objects are more than just objects,” she says. “They say something about our identities, and about our sensory feelings for family, for home, and connections to place. Whether we keep these objects on our bedside table or hidden carefully away to be taken out and appreciated, these items contain our connections and our stories.”
"Objects are more than just objects. They say something about our identities, and about our sensory feelings for family, for home, and connections to place."
Professor Rosita Henry