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Cultural Diversity in Indonesian Papua « Culture Matters

April 5, 2011

As some readers of this blog will know, I have argued in several places that sovereign nation-states are the prime culture areas of our time. Further evidence for the crucial importance of state boundaries in shaping processes of cultural change and modernisation comes from Indonesian Papua. As the anthropologist Jaap Timmer shows via the blog Culture Matters, many Papuans are fluent in Bahasa Indonesia and primarily orientated towards the Indonesian metropolis, Jakarta, not towards neighbouring Papua New Guinea and the rest of the ethnological region known as Melanesia:

With respect to modernity, the noses of most Papuans are directed towards the West, to Jakarta, and not to the Pacific. In cosmologies that map an ever wider world, Jerusalem and Mecca usually appear as sources of modernity alongside the government centre of the former colonial power (‘Belanda’) and Washington, Canberra, and so on. To engage with these centers, that is, to get access to modernity it is essential, as Papuans understand very well, to learn the relevant vernacular, as it is mainly through language that knowledge is acquired and exchanged. The necessary connections are shaped by individuals and groups and transgress, cross and blur boundaries between [Papuan ethnic] groups.

via Cultural Diversity in Indonesian Papua « Culture Matters.

















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