This study presents an overview of the dynamics of the life of indigenous people in Papua, with the rapid changes and new social, economic, and cultural arrangements brought about by in-migration and industrialization. From the perspective of critical island studies, we analyze, in detail, the process of marginalization of the indigenous population due to industrialization and massive migrant incursions into island life. The struggle of indigenous people is seen as an impact of multifaceted processes of development and power, involving diverse social actors, from locals to development agents. Emphasis is placed on the struggles resulting from the encounters of indigenous Papuans with the incoming migrants from other parts of Indonesia, showing the profound local impact of broader political-economic processes (on regional, national, and global scales). The resulting marginalization of locals stems from a complex set of social relations and power structures, deeply connected to questions of representation. For example, the LNG (Liquefied National Gas) company/project has instituted, in the name of siding with indigenous peoples, a dichotomy between the locals and immigrants in providing job opportunities, with the former eventually becoming a key element of the new way of life offered by the company. Yet while the indigenous people were busy integrating themselves with the industrialization process, the in-migrants took over the production and service sectors of the local economy. Data assembly and analysis were based on the census, surveys, and in-depth interviews, including report-sourced data, and publications from previous census and survey analyses conducted in Teluk Bintuni Regency in 2007, 2009, 2011, and 2013.


migrants, Indigenous Papuans, Sumuri, marginalization, struggle

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Kritika Kultura
Department of English
School of Humanities
Ateneo de Manila University

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International Board of Editors

Jan Baetens
Faculty of Arts
Katholieke Universiteit te Leuven (Belgium)

Joel David
Professor of Cultural Studies
Inha University (South Korea)

Michael Denning
Professor of American Studies and English
Department of English
Yale University (US)

Faculty of Cultural Sciences
Universitas Gadjah Mada (Indonesia)

Regenia Gagnier
Professor of English
University of Exeter (UK)

Leela Gandhi
John Hawkes Professor of the Humanities and English
Brown University (US)

Inderpal Grewal
Professor of Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies
Professor of South Asian Studies, Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies
Yale University (US)

Peter Horn
Professor Emeritus and Honorary Lifetime Fellow
University of Cape Town (South Africa)
Honorary Professor and Research Associate in German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

Anette Horn
Professor of German Studies
University of the Witwatersrand (South Africa)

David Lloyd
Distinguished Professor of English
University of California, Riverside (US)

Bienvenido Lumbera
National Artist for Literature
Professor Emeritus
University of the Philippines

Rajeev S. Patke
Director of the Division of Humanities
Professor of Humanities
Yale NUS College (Singapore)

Vicente L. Rafael
Giovanni and Amne Costigan Endowed Professor of History
University of Washington (US)

Vaidehi Ramanathan
Department of Linguistics
University of California, Davis (US)

Temario Rivera
Professorial Lecturer
Department of Political Science
University of the Philippines

E. San Juan, Jr.
Philippines Studies Center (US)

Neferti X.M. Tadiar
Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies
Barnard College (US)
Director of the Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race
Columbia University (US)

Antony Tatlow
Honorary Professor of Drama
Trinity College Dublin (Ireland)