Alert and Transmission: Networks of Power and Contemporary Political Mobilization in West Papua
My dissertation aims to examine the Melanesian conception of politics through an historical ethnography of West Papua’s Highlanders. West Papua, previously known as Irian Jaya is a self-identifying term that refers to the provinces of Papua and West Papua, the remote and highly marginalized provinces of Indonesia. Having recently introduced to a conception of modern state (under the Dutch colonialism) and Christianity in the mid-20th century, West Papuans who consider themselves as Melanesians have been struggling for the right of self-determination from Indonesia.
Considering the Central Highlands of West Papua as a locus of capitalist and state expansion, my dissertation examines domains and institutions of governance, which shape a modern conceptualization of politics in West Papua. My dissertation seeks to answer questions: What institutions that have played major roles in constituting modern politics in West Papua? How does the Melanesian conception of ceremonial exchange and social relations underpin West Papuan conception of politics? How various forms and technologies of governance have shaped experiences and political identities of West Papua’s Highlanders?
Veronika Kusumaryati finished her undergraduate study in Cinema Studies at the Jakarta Arts Institute in Indonesia. After working as a curator, she went to the United States. She is currently a Ph.D candidate at the Department of Anthropology with a secondary field in Film and Visual Studies at Harvard University. She is working on her dissertation about new technologies and political mobilization in West Papua under the supervision of Professor Mary M. Steedly (principal advisor), Professor Ajantha Subramainan, and Professor Lucien Castaing Taylor. She is a member of the Sensory Ethnography Lab.