Indigenous people from West Papua, a territory under Indonesian rule, are foraging for food in spaces by the side of the road, in the ruins of recently logged forests. Living on the margins of market economies and transportation infrastructures comes with opportunities as well as risks. Emergent ecosystems are teeming with grasshoppers, katydids, praying mantises, and other edible insects, as well as marsupial game animals. Children are finding happiness in the hap of what happens in these multispecies worlds. At the same time, plans by technocrats in distant metropolitan centers to turn nomadic hunter-gatherers into a governable population have gone awry. Infrastructures and modern medical practices protect some people in Indonesia from tropical diseases like malaria, while Papuans die. Black lives matter. But some black lives matter more than others. The case of one black boy who was shot dead along the side of the road in June 2015 while hunting with friends is part of an ongoing process of genocide in West Papua. Race, nationality, and class all help determine who has full personhood before the law. In pursuing the elusive promise of justice in West Papua, indigenous people are pushing back against powerful assemblages and infrastructures, creating the conditions for continued life in multispecies communities.
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Eben Kirksey; Lively Multispecies Communities, Deadly Racial Assemblages, and the Promise of Justice. South Atlantic Quarterly 1 January 2017; 116 (1): 195–206. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00382876-3749614
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