Accepted Paper:

Reproduction and Colonialism among Kamoro in West Papua  
Els Tieneke Rieke Katmo (University of Papua)

Paper short abstract:

Colonialist approaches identify the other, or colonised people, by evaluating them along standards of modern life based on Christianity and stigmatising Indigenous sexuality. Based on fieldwork conducted in Mimika district, West Papua, this paper focuses on the effects of colonialism on Kamoro people’s reproduction and sexuality.

Paper long abstract:

Colonialist approaches identify the other, or colonised people, by evaluating them along standards of modern life based on Christianity. Dichotomous ways of thinking that old or traditional values and practices need to be changed is a colonial way of thinking. This paper focuses on the experiences of Kamoro people, specifically the impacts of colonialism on reproduction and sexuality, and draws on fieldwork conducted in 2015. The Dutch might not have brought all the diseases but they changed the values, practices, and norms that guided Indigenous Kamoro people regarding reproduction and sexuality. In the Indonesian era (1963-present), young people are affected by the values that Butt and Munro (2007) describe as a ‘shame culture’ that originated during Indonesian era. Indigenous sex and sexuality is stigmatised as primitive and dirty, something to be hidden and ashamed of. Sexual violence including coercive sex in courtship, rape and unprotected sex behaviour are connected to these ideas, which also drive the increasing number of STIs including HIV. Addressing the misconceptions, stigma and stereotypes of Indigenous people and the judgmental and racialised assumptions about their past cultural practices is necessary for a contemporary healing process. The impact of colonialism on people’s health, including its traumatising effects, must be acknowledged.

Panel P31
Coming to life: sovereign births and other reproductive logics