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Keywords:

  • mobile phone;
  • new technologies;
  • spirits of the dead;
  • religious movements;
  • Karawari people;
  • Sepik;
  • Papua New Guinea

Since Digicel services began to operate in remote areas of Papua New Guinea in mid-2007, enthusiasm for mobile telecommunication devices has become a pan-New Guinean phenomenon. During our last fieldwork period, between December 2010 and December 2011, no mobile phone network existed among the Karawari people in the East Sepik Province of Papua New Guinea. However, their expectations were high and some individuals had already purchased mobile phones, which they used as torches, radios, and cameras. In Ambonwari village, people were convinced that Digicel would soon build its tower on their land and enable them to ring both the living and the dead. The dead had already interfered with calls and some people were suspected of possessing phone numbers of their deceased relatives. In our article we explore the relationship between mobile phones, the increasing fascination with phone numbers, and the ways in which the Ambonwari perceive, interpret, and engage with the world.