1. This book would have been very different if the work of Danilyn Rutherford
had not come first. Readers will find conversations with Rutherford’s work spread
throughout this book. Here I am indebted to her for a description of Biak magic, as
well as the comparison between flying tourists and flying fish (Raiding the Land of
the Foreigners, 80–90).
2. A number of older anthropological texts, as well as more recent travelogues,
describe West Papuans as “Stone Age” people (e.g., Koch, War and Peace in Jalémó;
Gibbons, Where the Earth Ends).
3. “If Biaks lured fish with foreigners,” writes Rutherford, “they lured foreigners
with a dance . . . bringing them off the airplane and, with luck, out of the airport,
to take in Biak’s cultural riches.” These performers seem to be following Indonesian
authorities who were bent on promoting tourism, but Rutherford hints: “there was
more to their complicity than met the eye.” My own book picks up where Ruther-
ford left off. She concluded her period of major fieldwork in 1994, just as I was first
traveling to Indonesia. Departing from the playful trickery of these airport encoun-
ters, this book explores political possibilities emerging with unexpected encounters
and collaborations (Rutherford, Raiding the Land of the Foreigners, 100, 107).
4. The debate about whether the killings, massacres, disappearances, and struc-
tural elimination of indigenous peoples amount to genocide is fruitless and poten-
tially diversionary, according to the historian Tracey Banivanua- Mar. She uses the
case of West Papua to focus on the kinds of discursive and epistemic violence—
tropes about cannibalism and violent savages—that provide the enabling backbone
and camouflage for genocidal practices. “The word genocide,” observes the West Pap-
uan pastor and anthropologist Benny Giay, “is usually defined by institutions and
powerful states that are perpetrators of violence. West Papuans have the right to
define this word for ourselves. We have experienced a genocide during the last 40
years of Indonesian rule” (Banivanua- Mar, “A Thousand Miles of Cannibal Lands”;
Benny Giay, interview, January 15th, 2010, McHenry, Md.).
The question of genocide in West Papua has nonetheless recently been hotly de-
bated by Stuart Upton (who argues against using the word “genocide”) and Jim
Previous Page Next Page