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Lecture | Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS)

Mobilizing Racial Solidarity: West Papuan campaign for decolonization and African support at the United Nations, 1961-1969

  • Emma Kluge (University of Sydney)
Date
Thursday 29 November 2018
Time
Series
Contemporary History and International Relations Research Seminar (CHIRRS) year 2018 - 2019
Location
Johan Huizinga
Doelensteeg 16
2311 VL Leiden
Room
Conference room (2.60)

From 1963 to 1969, West Papuan activists waged a war of words at the United Nations to petition for self-determination and an independent state. Although decolonisation had led to the creation of scores of newly independent nation states, West Papua’s claim was blocked by Indonesia’s campaign to incorporate the territory into its newly independent republic. With no regional allies at the General Assembly, West Papuan independence advocates turned to African leaders for support, attempting to widen pan-Africanism and the map of Black solidarity to include the Black Pacific. West Papuans attempted to build racial solidarity with African leaders, while also campaigning more generally at the United Nations reworking and adopting the language and agendas of the UN to further their political struggle for self-determination.

Kluge argues that although this campaign did not result in West Papuan independence, viewing decolonization from West Papua demonstrates the limits of self-determination and racial solidarity. It reveals how the lack of political and cultural knowledge at the UN about the Pacific Islands, coupled with the wealth of natural resources in this region, made decolonization in the Pacific vulnerable to colonization by neo-colonial powers like Indonesia.

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