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From 'Stone-Age' to 'Real-Time'

From 'Stone-Age' to 'Real-Time': Exploring Papuan Temporalities, Mobilities and Religiosities OPEN ACCESS

Martin Slama
Jenny Munro
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: ANU Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt1657v6x
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  • Book Info
    From 'Stone-Age' to 'Real-Time'
    Book Description:

    There are probably no other people on earth to whom the image of the ‘stone-age’ is so persistently attached than the inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, which is divided into independent Papua New Guinea and the western part of the island, known today as Papua and West Papua. From ‘Stone-Age’ to ‘Real-Time’ examines the forms of agency, frictions and anxieties the current moment generates in West Papua, where the persistent ‘stone-age’ image meets the practices and ideologies of the ‘real-time’ – a popular expression referring to immediate digital communication. The volume is thus essentially occupied with discourses of time and space and how they inform questions of hierarchy and possibilities for equality. Papuans are increasingly mobile, and seeking to rework inherited ideas, institutions and technologies, while also coming up against palpable limits on what can be imagined or achieved, secured or defended. This volume investigates some of these trajectories for the cultural logics and social or political structures that shape them. The chapters are highly ethnographic, based on in-depth research conducted in diverse spaces within and beyond Papua. These contributions explore topics ranging from hip hop to HIV/ AIDS to historicity, filling much-needed conceptual and ethnographic lacunae in the study of West Papua.

    eISBN: 978-1-925022-43-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology, Technology
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  1. Martin Slama and Jenny Munro

    There are probably no other people on earth to whom the image of the ‘stone-age’ is so persistently attached than the inhabitants of the island of New Guinea, which is divided into independent Papua New Guinea and the western part of the island, known today under the names of Papua and West Papua. This volume focuses on the latter region, which took its own trajectory since the colonial division of the island and especially since its controversial incorporation into the Indonesian nation-state in the 1960s. In Papua, stone-age imagery has motivated missions to ‘pacify’, ‘civilise’, ‘modernise’, ‘Christianise’ and ‘Islamise’ the...

  2. Danilyn Rutherford

    What is a colonial officer to do? When the radio he has been waiting for to begin his expedition into uncharted land arrives only to break the first time it is used? When the coolies he has recruited from a nearby coastal settlement announce they are going on strike? When his superiors suddenly decide he should head for an entirely different region than the one he was planning for – a region for which he has no maps and has read no reports? When the scientist along for the expedition, who has never been to this island, changes the route...

  3. Rupert Stasch

    On 12 December 2012, an Indonesian Air Force helicopter flew 230 miles north from the coastal city of Merauke to an unfinished dirt airstrip in the middle of the forested territory of Korowai people of Papua’s southern lowlands. Korowai number only about 4,000 persons, but from among the many different peoples of Papua they have become uniquely prominent in the global mass media, where they are known for their ‘treehouse’ architecture and their supposed ‘Stone Age’ isolation from markets and the state. Their location, spread across the upper lowland watersheds of several rivers, and the lack of extractive resources there,...

  4. Jaap Timmer

    In Maurice Halbwachs’sLes cadres sociaux de la mémoire(1952) andLa topographie légendaire des évangiles en terre sainte: Etude de mémoire collective(1941) (published together in English asOn Collective Memoryin 1992) we learn that it is through membership of a social group that people are able to acquire, to localise and to recall memories. Halbwachs’s theory of the social construction of memory demonstrates that ‘society tends to erase from its memory everything which could separate individuals’ (1992: 182–183). It is in the interaction between the individual and society that individual memories are reshaped and reconstructed. Along...

  5. Henri Myrttinen

    On 19 October 2011, the Third Papuan Congress, held in the outskirts of the Papuan provincial capital Jayapura, ended in chaos and bloodshed. During the three-day congress, several thousand participants had discussed the current situation inTanah Papua, how to improve the lives of the indigenous ‘sons of the soil’ as well as their fears of social, cultural, religious and economic marginalisation.² The answer was not a new one: not for the first time, the Land of Papua proclaimed its independence from Indonesia, a new government was declared and, amongst other measures, the Dutch New Guinea Guilder was introduced as...

  6. Sarah Richards

    Hamburgers and evangelical Christianity are highly successful American exports and so too hip hop has proven to be ‘the cultural form most widely appropriated into new contexts around the world’ (Bucholtz 2002: 543). In Manokwari, the capital city of the province of West Papua, young people have passionately embraced the music and music videos of American hip hop at a time when cable television and online networks have displaced national control and censorship over print and visual media. Locally referred to as ‘lagu rap’ (rap songs), ‘r ’n’ b’ (R and B) or ‘lagu karpet dans’ (carpet dance songs), commercial...

  7. Jenny Munro

    When Penggu,¹ a 30-year-old university student from the highlands of Papua proclaimed that, ‘Our elders used to wear just the penis sheath [koteka] and did not feel ashamed, but now, now we know the feeling of shame [malu]’, he articulated a central problematic I had encountered during my fieldwork. Prior to colonialism and Christianity, Dani societies clearly knew shame in their own ways (Alua 2006; Heider 1979). Penggu’s comment can be partially understood in relation to Indonesian state interventions aimed at eliminating highlander men’s practice of wearing thekotekain the name of modernisation, and missionaries’ concerns about the moral...

  8. Budi Hernawan

    Torture in Papua,¹ Indonesia,² gained new attention when graphic footage was leaked toYouTubein October 2010. There are two separate incidents captured in the footage. The first part of the footage depicts eight Papuan highlanders stripped naked of their shirts in front of two Indonesian army soldiers. Two of the victims were identified under the names of Kotoran Wonda and Dipes Tabuni. While interrogating these terrified Papuans and calling them ‘monyet’, ‘anjing’ or ‘bajingan’ (monkey, dog, bastard), the soldiers kicked their heads with their army boots, and hit their heads using their helmets. The soldiers demanded they confess to...

  9. Leslie Butt

    The lure of Papua as a discrete, politically distinct space has curtailed the study of Papuan mobility, or the impacts of the mobile technologies, peoples, objects and ideas that flow in and out of the province on the indigenous men and women who live there. The tendency has been to privilege the fixity of culture in place, and the site of the production of cultural knowledge itself, over the fluidity and porosity of cultural boundaries and cultural transformations brought about through mobility. The tried-and-true approach, as I have taken in many of my own academic papers, is to assert that...

  10. Martin Slama

    This contribution attempts to examine accounts of Papua that perceive the territory as a frontier where borders of nation states, civilising missions, predatory capitalism and violent conflicts converge, and to which images of the stone-age, the primitive, the uncivilised, etc. are so persistently attached. The anthropology of Indonesia has generated particularly rich accounts of frontier regions including valuable theorisations of the concept (e.g. Li 1999; Rutherford 2003; Tsing 2005). This chapter engages with these approaches by understanding Papua not only as a frontier in the sense that has been discussed in the literature so far, but also by exploring decentred,...