New Book: "Reverse Anthropology: Indigenous Analysis of Social and Environmental Relations in New Guinea"

Jamie Kneen

National Program Co-Lead

by Stuart Kirsch
Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2006
cloth $55.00, paperback $21.95
see for ordering details

While ethnography ordinarily privileges anthropological interpretations, this book attempts the reciprocal process of describing indigenous modes of analysis. Drawing on long-term ethnographic research with the Yonggom people of New Guinea, the author examines how indigenous analysis organizes local knowledge and provides a framework for interpreting events, from first contact and colonial rule to contemporary interactions with a multinational mining company and the Indonesian state.

This book highlights Yonggom participation in two political movements: an international campaign against the Ok Tedi mine, which is responsible for extensive deforestation and environmental problems, and the opposition to Indonesian control over West Papua, including Yonggom experiences as political refugees in Papua New Guinea. The author challenges a prevailing homogenization in current representations of indigenous peoples, showing how Yonggom modes of analysis specifically have shaped these political movements.

Stuart Kirsch is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan and a member of the Editorial Board of the Mines and Communities web site