Series 590 - D'Arcy Ryan papers on the Mendi in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea

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D'Arcy Ryan papers on the Mendi in the Southern Highlands of Papua New Guinea


  • 1954 - 1988 (Creation)

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(1923 - 2014)

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D’Arcy Ryan was born in Bondi, Sydney, in 1923. He studied Arts/Law and anthropology at the University of Sydney and joined the RAAF during the war. He resumed studies in 1945 and received a BA with first-class honours in Anthropology. He then studied at Oxford University (Lincoln College) where he read law, but switched to anthropology and enrolled for the B.Litt (Bachelor of Letters) to study 'Australian Totemism.' He returned to Sydney in 1952 and obtained part-time lecturing work at the University of Sydney under Professor Elkin and began studying for a PhD. The University of Sydney sent Ryan to New Guinea in 1954 where he conducted early contact research on the Mendi in New Guinea's Southern Highlands. Previous European contact with the Mendi had only taken place by exploratory patrols in 1936 and 1938; an Australian administered district office was established in 1950 and the Methodist missionaries arrived soon after. Ryan completed his PhD in 1961 - 'Gift exchange in the Mendi Valley : an examination of the socio-political implications of the ceremonial exchange of wealth among the people of the Mendi Valley, Southern Highlands District, Papua'. Ryan's work on the Mendi is a significant record of early contact history. D'Arcy Ryan lectured for 25 years at the University of Western Australia until 1988.

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Papers, photographs, slides, field notes made by D'Arcy Ryan in the Mendi Valley, Papua New Guinea, 1954 - 1964 and papers related to his role as a lecturer in anthropology at the University of Western Australia until 1988.


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