Antropologi Indonesia


This paper explores the role of narratives in (re)shaping human-environment relations as well as development agenda. This work is inspired by my research in 2017 on the traditions and daily life of the Korowai communities residing in neglected development areas in Southern Papua, Indonesia. My reflection during an architectural research tells that the Indonesian government efforts of on cultural conservation there overlap with tales of hopes and betrayals brought by development. In response to their historical disappointment, Korowai people developed a different narratives on the government, the settlement construction, tourism, and other “modern” interventions imposed on them. I argue the treehouse-related narratives employed by the current development initiatives in Korowai have contributed to continuation of cultural appropriation, the “noble savage” portrayal, and economic inequality. Drawing from the Korowai people's mythical past as tree people, ones created and maintained by external entities, I emphasize the critical importance of understanding the diverse environmental narratives for research engagement in development settings. By focusing on this particular encounter, this paper promotes a reciprocal collaborative understanding between government entities, experts, and communities in research and development engagements.


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