Papua and its Special Autonomy Status: Revealing a Concealed Reality

Willem Burung

Papua and its Special Autonomy Status: Revealing a Concealed Reality

Friday, 27 May 2016 - 5:00pm
Venue: 
Dahrendorf Room
Speaker(s): 
Willem Burung (St Catherine's)
Chair: 
Gilbert Sanjaya (St Antony's)
Series: 
Southeast Asia Events in Oxford

Papua is one of the pacific islands where one finds the beauty of its nature, the richness of its land, and the sincere kindness of its people. Yet, the land can spark off unresolved debate as one recalls its violent past and ponders its future with a biased understanding of its present circumstances. This conference shall unravel the concealed reality of Papua – an island cross-hatched with endless conflicts, unique power relationships, and irretrievable heterogeneities – that surreptitiously ushers in its contemporary representation. Indeed, much of the representations of Papua, especially in the media, single out the complexity of “Special Autonomy” status attached to it; a status we argue acting as an agent of profound social change.

The “Special Autonomy” status was given to Papua by the Indonesian government in 2001, effectively enabling Papua to govern its own area with its own political style. This conference endeavours to offer an understanding of the consequence of this privilege, as well as its implication to the situation that Papua and its people are facing today. We shall inspect the dynamic of this status on these following domains: development, politics, and business. In doing so, an outline of Papua’s historical trajectory, its current status in Indonesian political discourse, and its prospect in reaching a promising solution in the future will be critically assessed. This conference proposes this following notion:

A genuine care of Papua and its people’s development must involve the disposal of Special Autonomy status.”

Willem Burung is a Clarendon Scholar, currently reading a DPhil in General Linguistics and Comparative Philology at St Catherine’s College, where his research focuses on the grammar of Wano language. He obtained his MA in General Linguistics from SOAS and was an Honorary lecturer at State University of Papua for 5 years prior to his arrival at Oxford. He has written extensive publications on vernacular Papua linguistic and various educational issues there.

Co-organised with the Oxford University Indonesia Society.