The past several weeks have seen sustained unrest in Indonesian Papua. The proximate cause was the shameful treatment of Papuan students living in Surabaya, East Java who were alleged to have desecrated the Indonesian flag on Indonesia’s independence day. But this is just a trigger; the issues are far deeper. Today’s article in the Sydney Morning Herald provides a good overview of the historical context and contemporary problems. The protests in cities like Jayapura, Manokwari, and Sorong have left multiple people dead. The government suspended internet service in Papua for a time, and police have cracked down on protestors and militants (both real and alleged).
Over the 15 years that I’ve been blogging about Indonesian politics, Papuan affairs have been a constant theme. Below is a list of posts touching on Papua, with some background information and context that may prove useful.
- Irjabar (2006): migrants, racism, and blackface
- The Wonders of the Wolani (2008): I would write much of this post differently today, but it is striking how central the island of New Guinea has been to ethnography and anthropological theory, both by serious anthropologists and by armchair economists and geographers
- Decentralization, Accountability, Food Security, and Papua (2012): On the incidence of malnutrition and stunting in Papua.
- Unit Homogeneity in Subnational Comparative Research (2013): Papua and West Papua really are different than the rest of Indonesia. See here (PDF) for some broader conceptual and methodological questions that I developed from thinking about the Papuan case.
- Subnational Peripheries Mapped (2013): some discussion of what kinds of regions Papua is like
- Foreign Journalists in Papua: Not So Fast (2015): On the common rhetorical flourish that Indonesians need to watch out for “unnamed specific forces” (= pihak tertentu) in Papua (and elsewhere). Also features an attempt to create an Indonesian meme of “Tedjo’s gonna Tedjo”
- Racism in a Multiethnic Country (2015): race is not the same as ethnicity, even if both are social constructions. A pithier way to say this might be that race functions differently in social discourse than does ethnicity.
- Urbanization, Ethnic Diversity, and the Rise of Indonesian (2018): Papua has Indonesia’s most ethnically diverse districts, both urban and rural.
- Papua is even in my job talk talk (PDF) (2017).