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Farhadian, Charles Edward 2001 Raising the morning star: A social and ethnographic history of urban Dani Christians in New Order Indonesia, PhD Dissertation, Boston University.
    © Charles Edward Farhadian, 2001. Use of any part of this thesis for any purpose must be acknowledged.

Abstract

Western contact with the highland Dani of Irian Jaya, Indonesia, began in the period following the Second World War. By the 1960s, most highland Dani accepted evangelical mission Christianity as a response to the outreach of Westerners and Indonesian missionaries. The demise of the Dutch East Indies and the acquisition of Irian Jaya by the Republic of Indonesia in 1963 precipitated an ongoing conflict between Indonesian nationalist forces and Papuan independence movements that forced identity issues to center stage in the religious and political discourse. By exploring the tensions among Dani tradition, Western mission, Indonesian nation-state, and Islam, this dissertation traces the continuity of Dani identities amid the contending voices and alternative visions of a better world provided by state ideologies and the proliferation of religious perspectives. Dani use Christianity to conserve their identity and express their political aspirations, thereby illuminating the role that religion has played in nation building and personal and communal fulfillment. Based on extensive interviews, four summer visits, and an eleven-month period of field research in Irian Jaya, this thesis investigates the negotiation of personal meanings, ethnonationalist aspirations, and private and public use of religion among Dani Christians living in the New Order regime. Part one forms the background of the dissertation by providing an introduction to and history of the Dani in their traditional highland environment. The entrance of Western missions and Indonesian government officials to highland small-scale Dani communities stimulated a degree of self-reflection previously unknown among the traditional Dani. Part two considers the Dani in the urban milieu of Jayapura. It traces how Christianity among the Dani became privatized as it was encapsulated by modern conditions, then deprivatized as it entered the public sphere in the late New Order era. Instrumental in the deprivatization of Christianity were intellectual and instrumental Papuan elites. By using the idioms of democracy and human rights to address religious pluralism, Papuan elites stimulated a new Christian moral discourse that belied an easy confluence with evangelical missionary ideals. The emergence of a pan-Papuan ethnonationalist movement represented a new trajectory of Christianity in the Papuan borderland between Southeast Asia and Oceania.


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