Appreciating of the “Self-Identity” of Papuan PeopleBy Stefhanus Junatan

Appreciating of the “Self-Identity” of Papuan People – The appreciation of self-identity of Papuan people encompasses two important levels. At the surface level, the appreciation is aimed for change of perceptions. In this case, the stereotypical and stigmatic perceptions of Papuans must inevitably turn to constructive nuances. Indeed, this is part of a political and cultural reconstruction of the Papuan self-identity perceptions.

In turn, this reconstruction is regarding with  a second, deeper level, namely the reconstruction of our thinking and subconscious paradigms as to the classification of self-identities of ethnic, which so far have been the legacy of the colonial government; and we take it for granted. We inevitably have to examine how the discourse on classification of citizens, nearly two centuries old, is familiar to us.

Our thoughts and attitudes seem to justify this discriminatory, repressive and exploitative classification. How the epistemological and paradigmatic roots of cultural violence are so pervasive so that we justify and allow various political and economic policies, agendas, programs and projects discriminating, repressing and exploiting of self-identities of the ethnic.

Apart from the changing of their internal perspective, the appreciation of self-identity of Papuan people also includes external areas. Toft’s research reminds us not to remove of self-identity from the homeland. As an origin of identity of our self-identity, the land of birth links us with our ancestors in a genetically-culturally manner (cf. Maalouf 2003).

Based on this existential relationship, we must consider the land aspect as an inseparable part of the Papuan identity (also prevails to other tribes). We do not regard the element of the land of birth only as a property right or a wide territory whose ownership is dominated and exploited by a group or a person.

The land of birth existentially provides the authenticity of the identity of a person or group. If the homeland is ignored, authenticity of self-identity becomes meaningless. In other words, giving a priority to the land of birth as a logical implication if we want to appreciate the self-identity of the Papuan people (and other tribes in the archipelago).

 Apart from the appreciation of the homeland, the appreciation of self-identity of the Papuan people can refer to the use of words raising the dignity of the Papuan people. The use of word pairs that tend to express discriminatory, repressive and exploitative perceptions; or words that have the connotation of cultural violence; must be avoided. These pairs of words are, for example, indigenous and non-indigenous. When the government or external parties set the agenda and implement political and economical practices based on the such pejorative categorization, external parties have practiced cultural violence against the Papuan people in the form of: discrimination, repression and exploitation. In other words, we need to notice the use of words used to describe who Papuans are for non-Papuan communities. Words that tend to discredit the dignity of the Papuan people cannot be used anymore.

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