Representing Papua

Portrayal of Culture from Local, National, and Global Perspectives

July 26, 2024 – January 31, 2025

The project “Representing Papua: Portrayal of Culture from Local, National, and Global Perspectives” is a six-month cultural exchange program and dialogues aimed at fostering an international dialogue on the representation and repatriation of Papuan culture. Scheduled from July 26, 2024, to January 31, 2025, this initiative involves the participation of scholars from both Indonesia and the United States, who will travel between the two countries to engage in collaborative research and discussions. Central to the project is the repatriation of the Hampton Archive, an invaluable collection of Papuan artifacts collected by Dr. O.W. Hampton, which includes significant artworks and indigenous technologies from the Baliem Valley. The collection, which has received repatriation approval from the Indonesian Ministry of Education, Culture, Research, and Technology, will be transferred to its new home at Museum Loka Budaya in Papua.

The project addresses the challenges of presenting and curating the newly repatriated material, a task complicated by the museum’s limited experience with new acquisitions over the past fifty years. Through this exchange, the project aims to bridge the gap in understanding between Indonesian and American scholars regarding the cultural significance and presentation of Papuan artifacts. The program includes a month-long study tour in the United States for two Indonesian scholars, who will visit museums in San Francisco/Berkeley, Chicago, Boston, Washington DC, and New York to investigate the collection history and current displays of Papuan objects. Concurrently, two American scholars will travel to Jakarta and Papua to study local presentations of indigenous cultures and engage with communities in the Baliem Valley.

This bi-directional exchange aims to establish a common understanding of current issues and priorities, enhancing the capabilities of museums in both locations. The project also seeks to contribute to the broader discussion on museum decolonization by challenging colonial narratives and improving the portrayal of marginalized groups. The collaboration will aid Museum Loka Budaya in integrating new knowledge into their exhibits and educational initiatives, while also supporting Museum Ceria’s focus on children’s programs related to Papua. It will also deepen Tracing Patterns Foundation’s ties to Indonesia.

The culmination of the project will involve a series of webinars and focus group discussions to share the findings and foster further discourse on decolonization, repatriation, and representation of Papuan culture. By bringing together scholars from diverse backgrounds, the project aspires to create a more nuanced and respectful portrayal of Papuan culture, reflecting the active role of ethnic groups in shaping their own cultural narratives. This initiative, organized by the Tracing Patterns Foundation and funded by the Asian Cultural Council, is expected to have a lasting impact on the professional growth of the participants and the institutions involved, promoting a deeper understanding and appreciation of Papuan heritage.

Participants

  • Enrico Y. Kondologit M. Hum., Indonesian citizen, residing in Jayapura, Papua;
  • Ajeng A. Arainikasih M.A., Indonesian citizen, residing in Jakarta;
  • Dr. Sandra Sardjono, US citizen residing in Berkeley, California;
  • Dr. Christopher Buckley, US resident residing in Berkeley, California.

This project is supported by the Asian Cultural Council, whose mission is to advance international dialogue, understanding, and respect through cultural exchange activities in Asia and the United States.