Anthropology faculty member wins national book award

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Lisa Shirota, (808) 956-7352
Communications Director, Social Sciences, Dean's Office
Posted: Apr 7, 2016

Alex Golub
Alex Golub

The Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA) has selected Leviathans at the Gold Mine: Creating Indigenous and Corporate Actors in Papua New Guinea as the winning entry for the 2016 APLA Book Prize competition. Written by Alex Golub, associate professor from the Anthropology Department in UH Mānoa’s College of Social Sciences, the book offers a captivating ethnographic account of the complex relationship between the Ipili, an indigenous Papua New Guinea group, and the country’s Porgera Gold Mine, which is the world’s third largest gold mine.

Leviathans at the Gold Mine provides readers with a fascinating look at the daily life, character, struggles and interactions between individuals from the Ipili and Porgera Gold Mine. Touching upon issues of wealth distribution and political capital, the book offers a sensitive analysis of the situation that brings forth broader-based theoretical and political questions about representation, political mobilization, corporations and capital.

Said Golub, "I'm so proud to bring this award home to Mānoa. The Anthropology Department is showing the world that Mānoa is a center of excellence not just of Pacific studies, but the study of law and politics more widely. It's great to be able to be part of that work."

Golub, who holds a PhD (’06) in Anthropology from the University of Chicago, joined UH Mānoa as part of the Department of Anthropology in 2006. His specialties include Papua New Guinea and Melanesia; World of Warcraft and the Internet; kinship and identity; resource development; and political anthropology.

His current work combines two different, but connected streams of research: a study of social change and the mining industry in Papua New Guinea with a focus on the Porgera Gold Mine in the Enga province; and the study of the online video game World of Warcraft and how players bring the culture of their actual lives into virtual worlds. Both areas of research focus on how the politics of small group interaction are shaped by the cultural expectations of political actors.

Golub, who is one of the co-founders of the popular cultural anthropology blog known as, is a graduate of Reed College (BA, '95) and the University of Chicago (MA, '97; PhD, '06).

The Association for Political and Legal Anthropology (APLA) is a section of the Anthropological Association. APLA members share interests in issues of contemporary importance in the fields of political and legal anthropology. APLA hold an annual Book Prize competition recognizing books that best exemplifies creativity and rigor in the ethnographic exploration of politics, law and/or their interstices.

Established in 1934, the Department of Anthropology in the UH Mānoa College of Social Sciences is committed to the study of human social, cultural, and biological diversity. Students explore and develop a global understanding of human social, cultural, and biological change through comparative, holistic studies of communities and regions. Specializations include applied archaeology, ecological anthropology, and medical anthropology, with a particular focus in Asia and the Pacific. The department’s programs encourage the development of essential skills such as critical thinking, communication, self-direction, expression, creativity, global awareness and team dynamics.

Marked by leadership, excellence and innovation, the College of Social Sciences (CSS) at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa provides students with a culturally diverse experience that transforms them into bold, engaged global citizens who affect change, break down barriers, touch lives and succeed in a multi-cultural context. Its student-centered environment id dedicated to providing students with a vibrant academic climate that affords exciting, intense interaction among students and faculty as they address fundamental questions about human behavior. Featuring outstanding scholarship through internships, active and service learning approaches to teaching, and an international focus particularly in the Asia Pacific region, it prepares students to become leaders in public and private enterprises throughout Hawai‘i and Asia.