Dr Eban Kirksey on West Papua
He will speak in Brisbane in October about West Papua and his new book on the situation in this troubled region of Indonesia. His major Brisbane talk will be held on Wednesday 17 October, 5.30 p.m. for 6 p.m. at the College Hall, St Joseph’s College, Gregory Terrace, Spring Hill. Entry is free, but donations to support human rights work in West Papua will be gratefully accepted. Copies of Dr Kirksey’s book, Freedom in Entangled Worlds, will also be on sale. Coffee and tea will be available on arrival.
Other talks will be held at Cafe IRA, Tugun, on Thursday 18 October, 4 – 6 pm and at the University of Southern Queensland Toowoomba on Friday 19 October at 12.30 pm.
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.