cover of book

Freedom in Entangled Worlds: West Papua and the Architecture of Global Power
by Eben Kirksey
Duke University Press, 2012
eISBN: 978-0-8223-9476-1 | Cloth: 978-0-8223-5122-1 | Paper: 978-0-8223-5134-4
Library of Congress Classification DU744.5.K565 2012
Dewey Decimal Classification 995.104

Eben Kirksey first went to West Papua, the Indonesian-controlled half of New Guinea, as an exchange student in 1998. His later study of West Papua's resistance to the Indonesian occupiers and the forces of globalization morphed as he discovered that collaboration, rather than resistance, was the primary strategy of this dynamic social movement. Accompanying indigenous activists to Washington, London, and the offices of the oil giant BP, Kirksey saw the revolutionaries' knack for getting inside institutions of power and building coalitions with unlikely allies, including many Indonesians. He discovered that the West Papuans' pragmatic activism was based on visions of dramatic transformations on coming horizons, of a future in which they would give away their natural resources in grand humanitarian gestures, rather than watch their homeland be drained of timber, gold, copper, and natural gas. During a lengthy, brutal occupation, West Papuans have harbored a messianic spirit and channeled it in surprising directions. Kirksey studied West Papua's movement for freedom while a broad-based popular uprising gained traction from 1998 until 2008. Blending ethnographic research with indigenous parables, historical accounts, and narratives of his own experiences, he argues that seeking freedom in entangled worlds requires negotiating complex interdependencies.

“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. Marshaling 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 this remarkable book, Eben Kirksey attends to West Papuan indigenous thinkers and activists as they craft practical, surprising, and generative freedom projects in the fissures of power exercised by Indonesian occupiers, global financial interests, and foreign governments. Freedom in Entangled Worlds is shaped by explorations of complex messianisms, attention to the pragmatics of unexpected collaborations, and Kirksey's own unassuming and sustained commitment to the worlds and dreams of his West Papuan teachers."—Donna Haraway, University of California, Santa Cruz

-- Leslie Butts American Ethnologist

-- Andrew J. Strathern and Pamela J. Stewart (Strathern) Journal of Anthropological Research

-- Larry M. Lake Pacific Affairs

-- C. F. Black Leonardo Reviews

-- Jason MacLeod Inside Indonesia

-- Michael A. Long Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics

-- Morgan Harrington The Australian Journal of Anthropology

-- Judith Bovensiepen PoLAR

Nearby on shelf for History of Oceania (South Seas) / Smaller island groups / New Guinea: