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Freedom in Entangled Worlds


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West Papua has been occupied by the Indonesian military for forty years. Anthropologist Eben Kirksey went there planning to study the resistance movements working for independence. Instead he was drawn into a different type of long-term campaign based on collaboration across enemy lines. Inadvertent witness to the massacre of teachers, including two Americans, by the Indonesian military, Kirksey became part of an international human rights effort in London and Washington, facing off as much against British Petroleum as the Indonesian government. In this lively ethnography, Kirksey narrates the complexities of West Papuan attitudes, including their unfulfilled expectations of freedom following the fall of Suharto.

Table of Contents

Preface: Flying Fish, Flying Tourists, September 1994 ix
List of Key Characters xv
Introduction 1
Part I: Breakout, 1998-2000
Interlude: The King Has Left the Palace, Java, May 1998 23
1. The Messianic Multiple, July 1998 29
2. From the Rhizome to the Banyan, 1998- 2000 55
Part II: Plateau, 2000-2002
Interlude: Freeport Sweet Potato Distribution Inc. 83
3. Entangled Worlds at War, 2000-2001 90
4. Don't Use Your Data as a Pillow, June 13, 2001 125
5. Innocents Murdered, Innocent Murderers, August 31, 2002 138
Part III. Horizons, 2002-2028
Interlude: Bald Grandfather Willy 175
6. First Voice Honey Center, 2002-2008 182
Epilogue: The Tube, 2006-2028 210
Acknowledgments 221
Notes 225
Bibliography 283
Index 301

About the Author

Eben Kirksey is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Deakin University in Australia.


"Here at last is the account I can unreservedly recommend to anyone interested in the courageous people and fragile geography of West Papua. Eben Kirksey makes accessible the unique imagery of West Papuans long subject to racism, corporate exploitation, and a brutal military. Marshalling impeccable scholarship, he transcends conventional political ideology to define a form of conflict resolution relevant to many 'entangled worlds.' Bravo!" Max White, Amnesty International USA "In a page-turning blend of cultural analysis, human-rights reportage, and biography, Eben Kirksey documents his participation in the West Papuan freedom struggle as an ethnographer. In the process, he provides keen insight into the movement's dynamics and the desires that have led West Papuans to rise up against seemingly insurmountable odds. Kirksey clarifies the possibilities and predicaments face by the Papuans, while making sense of the multiple times, mundane and messianic, in which many Papuans seem to live." Danilyn Rutherford, author of Laughing at Leviathan: Sovereignty and Audience in West Papua

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