Colonialism weighs heavy on the present. In its tensions, ruptures, and distribution of wealth.

They express a history marked by an unprecedented attempt to expunge human cultures, productive systems, ways of thinking, and beliefs across Africa, Asia, the Americas and Pacific, in order to render spaces compatible with an emerging system of global capitalism.

The uncompromising economic forces behind colonialism advance this process of global assimilation today in new forms, that build on the inequities and tactics bequeathed by the past.

Those at the knife’s edge of real existing capitalism as it has grown and intensified in expansionary fits, have curated hidden histories and theories which illuminate our violent past, help explain our present, and anticipate the future.

This documentary web-series focuses on one vignette within the global story. Its setting is the South Pacific island of Bougainville. From the days of ‘blackbirding’ (forced labour) in the 19th century through to the contemporary scramble for natural resources, Bougainville has proven one of the more truculent and difficult targets for conquest.

"When the colonizer came into Bougainville ... his problems became the problems of Bougainville man."

Down Bougainville’s central spine lies the majestic Crown Prince Range. It is the seat for a complex netting of human cultures. They are profoundly wed to the surrounding ecosystems. Beneath the surface of the Crown Prince Range is a vast ore deposit of copper and gold.

As global capitalism matured following WWII and industrial appetites for natural resources increased, this inoffensive ore deposit became the target of policies formulated by the World Bank and the Australian colonial regime. The international mining firm, Conzinc Rio Tinto of Australia, under the protection of the colony’s riot squad and armed forces, became the corporate instrument for extracting and exporting the minerals.

The chance juxtaposition of geological activity beneath the Crown Prince Range’s surface and the human history that occurred on its ecologically rich exterior, that for thousands of years had not disturbed Bougainville, in the space of twenty years became the trigger for a brutal war that took up to 20,000 lives.

This documentary web-series is one attempt to share knowledge, curated from below, generated from this period of conquest, resistance and war.

Explore the series