Dr Mark William Busse

PhD (Calif), MA (Chicago)

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Senior Lecturer


  • Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology

Research interests

Social Anthropology: economic anthropology; material culture; visual anthropology; kinship and marriage; Papua New Guinea.

Research | Current

  • Social anthropology
  • Economic anthropology
  • Material culture
  • Visual anthropology
  • Kinship and marriage
  • Papua New Guinea

My research concerns social organisation, reciprocity and markets, intellectual and cultural property, and inequality with a geographical focus on Papua New Guinea.

I have carried out intensive, long-term ethnographic research among Boazi-speaking peoples in the Lake Murray-Middle Fly area of Western Province in Papua New Guinea since 1982. That research has focused on dual organisation, sister exchange marriage, gender and inequality, history, and regional integration. My most recent fieldwork in the Middle Fly was in 2009. As a result of that trip, I am currently writing about food shortages, cash crops, money, and socio-economic development.

Before moving to New Zealand in 1999, I worked for nine years at the Papua New Guinea National Museum, first as Curator of Anthropology and then as Assistant Director for Science and Research. As a result of my experiences there, I am interested in, and write about, intellectual and cultural property, and museums as political institutions.

In 2011 I received a three-year Marsden grant from the Royal Society of New Zealand for research on “Food Security in a Rapidly Urbanizing Country: The Goroka Fresh Food Market, Papua New Guinea”. The goal of this research is to understand the Goroka market as a set of complex social relationships from the perspectives of the diverse participants in the market rather than through the application of Western economic models. This will be achieved through long-term anthropological research in the marketplace and surrounding rural hinterland. For more information about this project, see: http://www.royalsociety.org.nz/2014/09/16/goroka-food-market.

Teaching | Current

ANTHRO 100 Human Cultures: Introduction to Social Anthropology

ANTHRO 242 Economy and Culture

ANTHRO 756 Anthropology and Intellectual Property

Postgraduate supervision

I am seeking postgraduate students who are interested in Papua New Guinea, economic anthropology, anthropology and intellectual property, and the anthropology of museums.

Current PhD students

Hestu Prahara, Between Community and the State: Understanding Development Brokers in the Implementation of Community Development in Eastern Indonesia

Past PhD students

Olivia Barnett-Naghshineh, Gender in a Commodifying World: Recognition, Emotions and Market Women's Agency in the Goroka Marketplace, Papua New Guinea (fund by the Marsden Fund) (completed 2019)

Jane Horan, Tivaivai in the Cook Islands Ceremonial Exchange: An Analysis of Value (completed 2012)

Michelle MacCarthy, Contextualising Authenticity: Cultural Tourism in the Trobriand Islands, Papua New Guinea (funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, New York) (completed 2012)

Current MA students

Michelle Thorp, Papua New Guinean's Experiences of Money, Wealth and Embodiment : A Life Histories Approach

Past MA students

Francis Be, O Keknen Ruk Tenik: Lukara: Changing rituals and musical performances of the Sulka people of Papua New Guinea (completed 2019)

Lise Palmer, Inside-Out: How Desjardins Members Became Outsiders in their own Cooperative (completed 2017)

Lauretta Ah Sam, Yours, Mine, Ours: Exploring Siapo Livelihoods and the Protection of Traditional Cultural Expressions in Samoa (completed 2015)

Willem Church, Shifting Ground: Economic Creolisation and Land Sales Near Goroka, Papua New Guinea (completed 2015)

Charlotte Pecover, Urban Food (In)security and School Breakfast Progrmmes in Auckland (completed 2015)

Doreen Iga, The Power of Civil Society to Negotiate for Development Assistance from Government or Donors: A Case Study of Care International in Papua New Guinea (completed 2012)

Jon Little, On the Intersection of US Copyright Law and Sample-Based Production: Issues of Property (completed 2010)

Mira Taitz, Making a Living and Making a Life: Economy, Social Relations and the Creation of Value among Food Market Vendors in Auckland (completed 2009)

Leanne Tamaki, Neoliberalism and Museums: The Impact of Neoliberalism on Maori Initiatives at the Auckland Museum and Te Papa (completed 2009)

Mary Beckett, The American Invasion from Manners Street to Cuba Street: A Clash of Cultures or a Culture of Racism? (completed 2008)

Aaron Dus, Can the Ka Mate, Ka Mate Haka Be Owned? (completed 2005)

Primas Kapi, AID Donor Conditionalities and NGOs: The Case of AusAID’s PNG Incentive Fund (completed 2005)

Kate Ansell, Prime Time Culture: Why Ethnographic Filmmakers Should Be Watching Reality TV (completed 2004)

Nary Chung, Politics of Resistance: An Analysis of the Conflict over Nuclear Waste Disposal Plant in Buan, Republic of Korea (completed 2004)

Jennifer Morgan, Zones of Negotiation: The Auckland Museum’s Relationships with Pacific Islands Communities (completed 2004)

Tracy Anderson, Boundary Crossings: Fred Mace and Surveying in the King Country, 1876-1921 (completed 2003)

Sara Wagstaff, Human-Mosquito Relations in the Kaipara: A Political Ecology of New Zealand’s Biosecurity (completed 2003)

Henning Borchers, Jurassic Wilderness: Ecotourism as a Conservation Strategy in Komodo National Park, Indonesia (completed 2002)

Jeffrey Williams, Embodied Membership: An Approach to Interpreting Participation (completed 2002)


Marsden Fund Research Grant, Royal Society of New Zealand (2012-2016)

Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship (1982-1983)



Member, University of Auckland Human Participants Ethics Committee

Areas of expertise

economic anthropology, gift exchange, food markets, material culture, visual anthropology, kinship and marriage, Papua New Guinea

Selected publications and creative works (Research Outputs)

  • Sharp, T. L. M., & Busse, M. (2019). Cash Crops and Markets. In E. Hirsch, W. Rollason (Eds.) The Melanesian World (pp. 194-222). London: Routledge. Related URL.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/46481
  • Busse, M. (2013). The national cultural property (Preservation) act. In K. Whimp, M. Busse (Eds.) Protection of intellectual, biological and cultural property in Papua New Guinea (pp. 81-95). Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press.
  • Busse, M., & Whimp, K. (2013). Introduction. In K. Whimp, M. Busse (Eds.) Protection of intellectual, biological and cultural property in Papua New Guinea (pp. 1-28). Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press.
  • Whimp, K., & Busse, M. (Eds.) (2013). Protection of intellectual, biological and cultural property in Papua New Guinea. Canberra, Australia: ANU E Press. Pages: 216.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/38936
  • Busse, M. W. (2013). Property. In J. Carrier (Ed.) A Handbook of Economic Anthropology. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar.
  • Strang, V. J., & Busse, M. W. (Eds.) (2011). Ownership and Appropriation. Berg. Pages: 288.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/12095
  • Busse, M. W., & Strang, V. J. (2011). Introduction: Ownership and Appropriation. In V. J. Strang, M. W. Busse (Eds.) Ownership and Appropriation (pp. 1-20). New York: Berg.
    URL: http://hdl.handle.net/2292/18908
  • Busse, M. (2010). The work of the National Museum. Living Spirits with Fixed Abodes (pp. 15-18).

Contact details

Office hours

Fridays, 11am-12noon

or by appointment

Primary office location

Level 8, Room 851
New Zealand