Numerous studies show obvious links between alcohol abuse and violence in Melanesia. In Papua New Guinea, alcohol is incorporated into sociality involving gift exchange and distribution practices associated with the ‘big man’ culture.
In the aftermath of the alcohol-related clash between the security forces in Port Moresby in November 2014, the National Capital District Commission liquor licensing board announced a ban on alcohol. The managing director of SP brewery responded by arguing that alcohol contributes significant tax revenue, and that liquor bans are not successful and would ‘force the issue underground and [have] devastating outcomes on the longer term’.
This short paper looks at how studies of material culture, commodities or substances can offer guidance to policymakers who are addressing the social, political and economic implications of alcohol.
The author argues that an ethnographic analysis of alcohol that draws on approaches to studying substances and products could yield much-needed insights into the social processes that influence contemporary intersections between masculinity, violence and alcohol. Such insights would contribute to the formulation of appropriate violence prevention interventions.