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Making Sense of AIDSCulture, Sexuality, and Power in Melanesia$
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Leslie Butt and Richard Eves

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831936

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831936.001.0001

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Silence Speaks Volumes

Silence Speaks Volumes

Elite Responses to AIDS in Highlands Papua

(p.116) 6 Silence Speaks Volumes
Making Sense of AIDS

Leslie Butt

University of Hawai'i Press

This chapter explores the elite responses to HIV/AIDS in Highlands Papua. The concern of elite Papuans over the rapid spread of HIV in the province of Papua has generated a discourse that appears initially to confirm the claim that epidemics heighten group solidarity and so make possible the questioning of forms of political control. As a part of a complex set of responses to Indonesian rule in the province, elite Papuans have developed explanations—particularly about incoming sex workers—that link the recent rapid spread of HIV and AIDS to oppressive Indonesian governance. This discourse heightens the boundaries that distinguish Papuans from colonizing migrant populations or, as people in the province say, the “indigenous” from the “straight hairs.”

Keywords:   HIV, AIDS, Highlands Papua, elite Papuans, group solidarity, Indonesian governance, sex workers, migrant populations

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