This article explores West Papua’s struggle against Indonesian imperialism. Defined as Black for centuries, in the 1960s West Papuan organizers self-identified as Melanesian “Negroids of the Pacific.” Via travel, photographs and literature, they forged Diaspora with the broader Black world. In 1975, they established an office in Senegal, arguing that Melanesia and Africa shared a common destiny. Senegal’s Leopold Senghor facilitated this move as an act of Negritude.
West Papuan activists argued that some Africana leaders refused to denounce Indonesia’s colonial violence because they were blinded by the Afro-Asian solidarity of the 1954 Bandung Conference. Indonesia used Bandung to codify its eventual colonization of West Papua. This article complicates Bandung as an iconic symbol of Global South solidarity.
Excavating newspapers, indigenous magazines and archives on Melanesia, this article delineates how notions of the Black world have also been blinded by African Diaspora frameworks calibrated to the Black Atlantic. But by illumining Black internationalism in West Papua, it challenges the conceptual and racial invisibility cast over the Black Pacific.