(P27)
Surviving entanglements in West Papua [Combined format]
Location A4-003
Date and Start Time 06 Dec, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenor

  • Lisa Stefanoff (UNSW Art & Design) email

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Chair Lisa Stefanoff
Discussant TBC

Short abstract

What entanglements survive in West Papua today and how are people, plants, animals and land surviving them? This combined format panel seeks to explore how, why and with what impacts projects, processes and stories of life, death and survival are 'entangled' (Kirksey 2012) for people and other species in West Papua today.

Long abstract

What entanglements survive in West Papua today and how are people, plants, animals and land surviving them?

This combined format panel seeks to explore how, why and with what impacts projects, processes and stories of life, death and survival are 'entangled' (Kirksey 2012) for people and other species in West Papua today.

It also proposes to experiment with how anthropology might 'entangle' itself in an enlivening transdisciplinary conversation with traditional knowledge, environmental science, theology, art and other modes of researching, making and thinking about living and dying in West Papua as an activated practice of cultural survival, human rights and ecological vitality.

Written papers, films, songs and performances are warmly invited from anthropologists and other researchers, cultural custodians, musicians, singers, filmmakers, storytellers, poets and any other artists that address questions of life, death and surviving entanglements in West Papua from multiple species' and theoretical perspectives.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Cognitive Poetic Analysis Of Metaphorical Expression As Hidden Transcript In Two Selected Biaknese Lyrics By Arnold Ap and Sam Kapisa

Authors: Henk Rumbewas email
Iriano Yedija Petrus Awom (Universitas Papua (UNIPA)) email
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Short abstract

An analysis of metaphorical expression in two selected Biaknese song lyrics by Arnold Ap and Sam Kapisa, two legendary folksong singers of West Papua.

Long abstract

This research attempts at analyzing metaphorical expression in two selected Biaknese song lyrics by Arnold Ap and Sam Kapisa, two legendary folksong singers of West Papua, using hidden transcript theory by James Scott. In avoiding direct retaliation from the ruling tyrant somehow some people would employ safer way in making criticism. This form of passive and peaceful resistance is disguised and veiled through witty symbolism and linguistic trick such as metaphorical expression, euphemism, and anonimity. Therefore, in order to understand and unveil the intended message behind those disguises, one has to make a careful reading. This can be done using cognitive poetic analysis. It is a way to get better understanding upon human creativity and artistic in transfering semantic knowledge and transforming human perception. Furthermore, to have a good understanding of hidden transcript in Ap and Kapisa's lyrics can be a window into which readers can see the worldview of the singers who represent their fellow brothers and sisters in West Papua.

The Sonics of Sovereignty ...

Authors: Thomas Dick (Further Arts) email
Jason McLeod (University of Sydney) email
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Short abstract

Remembering the Byak massacre, celebrating survival, and understanding these entanglements through embodied sonic expression.

Long abstract

This presentation will reflect on a recent engagement with survivors (and supporters of survivors) of the 1998 Byak massacre in West Papua. In May of 2018, a team of activists, musicians, storytellers, producers, and researchers (from West Papua, Vanuatu, Australia, Tonga, France, and the Solomon Islands) were invited to Vanuatu. The intention was to record stories and songs of survival, with a particular focus on amplifying the agency of a collective testimony that was created in 2013 for the Citizens Tribunal for the 15th Anniversary of the Biak Massacre

The team spent six days singing, telling stories, dancing, and remembering ... in a powerful process enabling the conditions for beauty and creativity to emerge. The recording was challenging on both creative and technical levels. The content of the recording - remembering the Byak massacre, and celebrating survival - creates an intense emotional field. Many tears were shed and shared, both inside and outside the studio.

This presentation will focus on an intimate interview, conducted across four languages, involving a survivor and a West Papuan musician. Insights from the participants will be interwoven with some of the highlights of the broader process, such as the way that the other artists and musicians (ni-Vanuatu, Australian, Tongan) were moved in such embodied ways.

Beyond subsistence affluence: the challenge for food security among the Asmats of West Papua

Author: Agus Sumule email
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Short abstract

This paper discusses causes of the situation portrayed by the Indonesian leading weekly TEMPO magazine as "apocalypse in Asmat." It will also provide suggestions and recommendations to prevent similar future calamities in the area.

Long abstract

The term 'subsistence affluence' was widely used by the development specialists in the Pacific after an Australian labor economist, E.K. Fisk, introduced the concept in 1960s. As a matter of fact the term he used was `primitive affluence', based on his studies in PNG. He concluded that unless in the natural disaster situation, the people of New Guinea had enough food as they needed, were living in huts and environments which supporting their livelihood, and had plenty of time to fulfill their cultural rituals.

More than fifty years after the subsistence affluence concept was introduced, the people of Asmat in the Southern part of West Papua found themselves in the difficult situation. They have to rely more on the provision of food and other good and services from outside. From the last part of December 2017 to February 2018, the media in Indonesia flooded its subscribers with news about deaths in Asmat due to famine, malnutrition and measles.

This paper discusses causes of the situation portrayed by the Indonesian leading weekly TEMPO magazine as "apocalypse in Asmat." It will also provide suggestions and recommendations to prevent similar future calamities in the area.

Affirmative Indigenous biopolitics in West Papua

Author: Eben Kirksey (Deakin University) email
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Short abstract

The people of Mee Pago, an Indigenous homeland in West Papua, are reckoning with the failed promises of Modern Progress. While navigating radical historical contingencies, Indigenous intellectuals are redefining the horizons of ethical and political action.

Long abstract

Amidst ongoing disruptions to Mee lifeworlds, Indigenous agents of transculturation are making strategic engagements with bureaucratic institutions and biomedical systems in unfinished attempts to ameliorate situations of inequity. Classical work on biopolitics, the term introduced by Michel Foucault in 1975 to understand how some human populations are "allowed to die" (laissez mourir), is certainly relevant to contemporary dynamics in Mee Pago. Futures for whole generations of Indigenous children are being destroyed. Diseases like measles and cholera have generated periodic mass mortality events. These outbreaks are taking place against the backdrop of chronic illnesses—like tuberculosis, malaria, and HIV—that are constantly killing the Mee people, young and old alike. Departing from classical biopolitical thought, which might account for these deaths in terms of the outcome of "a technology of power centered on life" (Foucault 1984: 266), this paper uses ethnographic methods to characterize the articulation work of indigenous intellectuals within the field of biopolitics. I found that some Mee leaders have assumed strategic positions within systems of governmentality, while others are engaged in tactical maneuvers that produced "temporary reversals in the flow of power" (Garcia and Lovink 1997; de Certeau 1998). Indigenous intellectuals are engaged in tactical biopolitics, they are working to expose, derail, and rearticulate dominant practices for managing life (da Costa and Phillip 2008: 9).

Deadly life: the ontology of oil palm from Marind perspectives

Author: Sophie Chao (Macquarie University) email
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Short abstract

This paper explores the ontology of oil palm among Marind in Merauke. Drawing from the methods and concerns of multispecies ethnography, I demonstrate how Marinds' heterogenous perspectives on oil palm as lively yet lethal capital challenge us to rethink capitalism in 'beyond the human' terms.

Long abstract

This paper explores how indigenous Marind conceptualize oil palm, a cash crop grown in monocrop plantations in Merauke (West Papua), whose proliferation destroys native forest ecologies and lifeforms. Widespread speculation among my interlocutors over the needs and wants of oil palm stems from the fact that the plant itself is seen (and feared) by many as a willful and deadly actant. Yet Marind also pity oil palm because its own life is subjected to totalizing human exploitation and manipulation. The plant is both a driver and a victim of violence inequitably distributed across and within species lines. I argue that giving center stage to commodified plants such as oil palm reveals their ambivalent ontology as lively yet lethal capital. Drawing from the methods and concerns of multispecies ethnography, I demonstrate how Marind perspectives on the 'deadly' life of oil palm challenge us to rethink capitalism and its effects in 'beyond the human' terms.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.