Abstract

Abstract:

Alcohol was recently banned in West Papua in the name of saving Indigenous Papuans from extinction. In this article, I draw on fieldwork and discussions with Dani men and women in the highlands town of Wamena, where home brew is proliferating, to reveal that alcohol facilitates representational, gendered, racialized, and embodied violence. Participants drew attention to the "refined" ways that Indonesia has taken over their territory by introducing alcohol (and other goods and people), which then negatively affect their ability to live. Dani understandings of their cultural and ethno-racial constitution challenge the racialization of Papuan men as violent and drunken and argue for reestablishing control over Papuan bodies and territories. The proliferation of alcohol constrains masculine possibilities rather than opening up new avenues for expression and is thus linked to a reconfiguration of Indigenous masculinities under Indonesian rule. For Papuans, alcohol symbolizes a broader struggle over Indigenous bodies, including what goes into them and how they are constituted, represented, and treated. Looking at alcohol in terms of racialization—assumptions about what biology or culture determines—can give us a better understanding of how Pacific masculinities are being configured by and around the problem of alcohol consumption.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1527-9464
Print ISSN
1043-898X
Pages
pp. 36-63
Launched on MUSE
2019-02-28
Open Access
No
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