Universitas Indonesia Conferences, 7th International Symposium of Journal Antropologi Indonesia

Font Size: 
Life Across Borders: Marginalization, Survival Strategy, and Social Movement of Nyao People in the Skow-Wutung Borderlands
Usman Idris, Simon Abdi K. Frank

Building: Soegondo Building
Room: 709
Date: 2019-07-25 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM
Last modified: 2019-06-21


State borders in a social perspective constitute a grey area that becomes a space of encounter between locality, nationality and globalization. For this reason, using a critical ethnographic approach, this article aims to explore the process of marginalization and the survival strategy of the Nyao people as local communities settled in the Skow-Wutung borderland of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. The results of the study showed that the Nyao people as local communities were deeply traumatized as a result of political turmoil and military aggression from the early days of the formation of the two countries. Their village was burned down, experienced violence and were driven from their homeland and sought refuge in Vinamo. Even after returning to villages after “Otonomi Khusus Papua”, the Nyao people had not yet received citizenship recognition. For the Indonesian government the Nyao were PNG (Papua New Guinea) citizens, but for PNG the Nyao people were refugees. Then the survival strategy developed was cross-border trade (crops), becoming transport drivers for border visits, kinship for rituals, ceremonies, and missed meetings. Then the movement carried out to gain space and recognition based on Otonomi Khusus Papua was by claiming customary land, the expansion of Mosso village, demands for infrastructure development, and the struggle of the rights of border dwellers (rights to cross borders, citizenship status). Thus this study shows that there is a struggle and negotiation process between locality, in responding to the new order formed by modernization, and state formation, which shows that Orang Nyao is not a helpless subject, but as an agent keeps moving and experiencing the dynamics of change.

Keyword : Nyao People, Marginalization, Survival life, Social Movement, Borderlands