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Affect and Technology in the Making of Stone Age New Guinea

Colloquium with Prof. Danilyn Rutherford, Department of Anthropology, UC Santa Cruz.

Thursday, June 03, 2010
4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
352 Haines Hall
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In this talk, I explore passions born of a dependence on technology that comes starkly into view when social worlds composed of people and artifacts collide. In western New Guinea, the Netherlands continued its civilizing mission for over a decade after relinquishing the rest of the Netherlands Indies in 1949. New Guinea’s imagined dearth of technology singled it out for special treatment: its “Stone Age” inhabitants needed Dutch tutelage to enter the modern world. This conceit was not simply dreamed up in Europe. Rather, it drew its energy from a prior experience of colonial rule. In the late 1930s, key promoters of the Netherlands’ post-war policy led expeditions into New Guinea's highlands in an effort to bring the region under colonial control. The fantasies and frustrations born of these officials' encounters with technology consolidated the Stone Age image of New Guinea and fueled the Netherlands’ postwar mission in the region. My research on their journeys suggests the importance of affect to an anthropological empiricism that both interprets ideas and images and explains where they come from and what they do.

Danilyn Rutherford is Associate Professor of Anthropology at U.C. Santa Cruz. Her research interests include borders and frontiers, colonialism, nationalism, ethnicity, kinship, performance, Christianity, secularism, sovereignty, publics, affect, technology, governance, theory and method in anthropology, West Papua, Indonesia, and the U.S.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Anthropology

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