We were Wives, Mothers, Daughters: Participatory Filmmaking for Peace Building by Indigenous Papuan Women

Cooke, Adeline (2019) We were Wives, Mothers, Daughters: Participatory Filmmaking for Peace Building by Indigenous Papuan Women. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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Papua to the rest of the world is a mysterious paradise, known for its birds of paradise and its struggle for independence from Indonesia. Literatures reviewed so far show that non-Indonesian researchers tend to highlight the human rights violations and Papua’s independence struggle, whilst most Indonesian writers argue that Papua is part of Indonesia. It is difficult to find any literature or documentary film authored by indigenous Papuans or from the point of view of Papuan grassroots communities.

The main concern is that grassroots communities – especially women – in Papua, have no voice in the discussions concerning their future. Discussions and peace negotiations are mainly held outside Papua, some discussions were held in the UN. Even if the Indonesian government agreed to negotiate, it would be with UN officials or international diplomats – as in the case of Aceh in 2005. Papuans who lobby internationally are those who had left Papua and became leaders in exile. Even though their intentions are for the best of their people, the voices from women in the grassroots might not be heard.

This practice based research intends to use participatory video (PV) or participatory filmmaking to voice the opinions of Papuan women, and to include those whose lives have been affected by the conflict in the discussions to find solutions. The main question is how to find a sustainable pathway for the Papuan women whose lives had been affected by the conflict to contribute to the discussions in the peace building process using PV.

Current practice of PV tends to have standard methods which include non-indigenous facilitators introduce new equipment to indigenous communities. This research combines the indigenous methodologies and approach with PV practice. The practice of PV is tested by utilising existing human and technological capital to achieve sustainability. The PV project strives to enable the participants to use their existing equipment, knowledge and power, to produce films that can inform the public and eventually make a difference in decision making processes. The positionality of the researcher is also unique in that being a woman, half Melanesian, Indonesian and British is taken into account in the result.
The methods include literature and contextual reviews, autoethnography work, designing the PV project, field work of PV workshops with the women participants in Papua, screening of the participants’ films, evaluation with the participants, editing a final documentary which at the same time functions as a reflection of the process, and writing up this critical dissertation. This practice research is using qualitative participatory methods.

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