#Papuanlivesmatter: Youth Political Movements and Black Consciousness in West Papua

Papuan Lives Matter artwork.

November 17, 2020
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. EST
Location: Online Zoom Webinar

After the brutal killing of George Floyd sparked anti-racism protests around the world, Black youths organized their own protests in West Papua, Indonesia’s marginalized and easternmost region. Even before these demonstrations, Papuans had protested against entrenched racism in Indonesian society when in 2019, Papuan students in Java were subjected to racist epithets. Since then, Papuans have used the hashtag #Papuanlivesmatter to articulate their connection with broader anti-racism protests across the world and to bring the Papuan experience to #BlackLivesMatter movements. While global Black political movements have long shaped Papuan identities, the new movement under #Papuanlivesmatter shows how digital media have played a powerful role in the spread of anti-racism protests and how Blackness has been understood and articulated, not only in relation to white supremacy but also to postcolonial claims of multiculturalism in Asian societies.

Dr. Veronika Kusumaryati holds a PhD in anthropology from Harvard University and is a postdoctoral fellow at Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the history and ethnography of colonialism and indigenous politics in West Papua, which is the subject of her ongoing book project. Her presentation will discuss the specific context in which the protest under #Papuanlivesmatter emerged and its relationship with global #BlackLivesMatter movements. Dr. Kusumaryati will also talk about the idea of Blackness in West Papua that stems not only from the influence of and conversation with American Black political movements and African Black movements (i.e. Négritude and South Africa’s Black consciousness movement), but also the Black Pacific experience under the Asian “[post]colonialism.” The conversation will be moderated by Associate Professor Dr. Yuhki Tajima and introduced by Dr. Tamara Sonn, director of the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU). 

This event is co-sponsored by Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding; Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs; and Asian Studies Program. It is part of ACMCU’s Southeast Asian Studies collaboration with the Asian Studies Program, Berkley Center, and ACMCU’s Global Anti-Racism Initiative.

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