Current #WestPapua protests are fueled by Indonesian racism against Papuans.… That #racism has a history, and it's one reason world powers agreed to hand West Papua to Indonesia in the first place back in the 1960s. Thread.
1960s: one Indonesian writer wanted to “free” Papuans from “stone age civilization” but noted their skills in music & sports; foreign minister wanted Papuans “down out of the trees even if we have to pull them down”; Indonesian president's audience wore blackface at a rally.
A briefing from US president John F Kennedy's national security staff dismissed Papuans as a "stone age" people
Another JFK admin document from a Dutch writer says it is not worth arguing over "who will train the Papuans to eat with knife and fork."
President Kennedy himself told a Dutch ambassador that the people of West Berlin deserved self determination because "they were highly civilized and cultured" but the people of West Papua did not because they were "living, as it were, in the Stone Age."
Indigenous Papuans were undeserving and incapable of self determination, says this Kennedy State Department briefing paper.
Grand cold war strategy mattered, says this Kennedy National Security staffer. A "few thousand square miles of cannibal land" did not.
As Indonesia took possession of this "cannibal land" - blocking a Papuan independence process - the British ambassador thought Indonesia would succeed in its plan to "introduce civilization."
The Canadian ambassador meanwhile thought it did not matter who tried to "tempt the Papuans down from the tree-tops." The cold was important, but defence of Papuan rights was "dubious"
Western images of Papuans were mediated through images of the Dani and other highland peoples peddled in US comic books and anthropological expedition reports.
A photo book that President Kennedy's staff gave to him showed Papuans literally "dressed in feathers," evoking images of the American frontier advancing, sweeping "dying races" of Indigenous people from their lands. Self determination for these people? US officials scoffed.
Papuan leaders tried yo spread different images. In this one, a Papuan student and teacher are observed by ambassador Frederic Guirma of Upper Volta, which had just won its own independence. But these images did not dent Western perceptions of "primitive" Papuans.

• • •

Missing some Tweet in this thread? You can try to force a refresh

Keep Current with David Webster

David Webster Profile picture

Stay in touch and get notified when new unrolls are available from this author!

Read all threads

This Thread may be Removed Anytime!


Twitter may remove this content at anytime! Save it as PDF for later use!

Try unrolling a thread yourself!

how to unroll video
  1. Follow @ThreadReaderApp to mention us!

  2. From a Twitter thread mention us with a keyword "unroll"
@threadreaderapp unroll

Practice here first or read more on our help page!

More from @dwebsterhist

Oct 1, 2021
Today in 1965, a coup & counter-coup in #Indonesia led to one of the great bloodbaths of the later 20th century. Western governments encouraged mass killings.

Evidence from Canadian archives summarized:…

#cdnfp @ForeignPoli_C
In Flowers in the Wall, Baskara Wardaya provides an exploration of clashing historical narratives of 1965: the official narrative as a wall that blocks light and words, and efforts of non-government voices to break through that wall. Free download at…
We can’t understand 1965 without also looking at the global setting & actions of major governments outside Indonesia. In the same book, Bernd Schaefer looks at the roles of the US & China & asks what a 1965 truth commission might look like. Free download…
Read 20 tweets
Jun 21, 2020
99 years ago, June 20, 1921, the Six Nations (Haudensosaunee or Iroquois) council met with Canadian govt officials to try to stop the erosion of their Grand River land base through Cdn channels. Canada stonewalled & the Six Nations took their appeal global. Thread on the meeting: Image
2. Chaired by local MP John Harrold, the meeting opened with a presentation of Canada's position by the architect of Canada's "Indian policy" Duncan Campbell Scott. The key issue was "enfranchisement." Many Six Nations members fought in WW1 as part of their alliance with Britain. Image
3. Enfranchisement meant that these ex-soldiers & some others could become British subjects (and thus Canadians) by surrendering their status as Six Nations citizens - a loss of people.

It also meant loss of land: the enfranchised could sell reserve lands to Canadians. Image
Read 14 tweets
Apr 17, 2020
The historic Bandung Asian-African conference opened 65 years ago, April 18, 1955. It was one of the 20th C’s most important events.

This e-dossier tells the story of the #Bandung conference through the conference bulletin and additional documents. ImageImage
This is an e-dossier of documents intended to be accessible for undergraduate students.

Leaders of the major independent Asian and African countries gathered at this Indonesian city from April 18-22, 1955. There, they first set in motion the concept of South-South solidarity.
Solidarity meant newly-independent countries of Africa and Asia gathering to seek common ground. A French writer dubbed this group “the Third World.” It was at the United Nations where the new independent governments found common ground. It all started in Bandung, 65 years ago.
Read 8 tweets
Aug 31, 2018
This year's textbook written by previous years' students - #Wikipedia articles in course on #memory, #truth & #reconciliation in global perspective, helped by @WikiEducation #transitionaljustice #cdnpse
Wrote about this experience with students at @ubishops back in 2017 at…
Featuring really strong work by @jocelyn_grubb @JulienMatwawana @emmafingler @katehallidayBU @TeganBelrose & others (sorry to anyone I missed who's on twitter!)
Read 4 tweets

Did Thread Reader help you today?

Support us! We are indie developers!

This site is made by just two indie developers on a laptop doing marketing, support and development! Read more about the story.

Become a Premium Member ($3/month or $30/year) and get exclusive features!

Become Premium

Don't want to be a Premium member but still want to support us?

Make a small donation by buying us coffee ($5) or help with server cost ($10)

Donate via Paypal

Or Donate anonymously using crypto!


0xfe58350B80634f60Fa6Dc149a72b4DFbc17D341E copy


3ATGMxNzCUFzxpMCHL5sWSt4DVtS8UqXpi copy

Thank you for your support!

Follow Us on Twitter!