An Examination of the Noken and Indigenous Cultural Identity: Voices of Papuan Women
Kanem, V., & Norris, A. N. (2018). An Examination of the Noken and Indigenous Cultural Identity: Voices of Papuan Women. Journal of Cultural Analysis and Social Change, 3(1), 1–11. https://doi.org/10.20897/jcasc/86189
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/11792
Noken is an essential tool/bag/clothing in the lives of Indigenous people of West Papua, which is made from knitting thin strips of wood primarily from the Gnetum Gnemon tree. Raw materials required to make noken have become scarce due to massive deforestation. An analysis of the noken lends itself to a useful understanding of the link between economic development initiatives in the Merauke Regency of West Papua and shifting cultural identity among Indigenous Papuans. Drawing on the Women, Culture and Development (WCD) approach, this qualitative study examines interviews from Papuan women in order to understand how the noken resonates with Indigenous Papuans, and how perceptions of noken and their accessibility have changed. The findings reveal that a combination of factors contribute to dwindling noken supplies, which adversely impact Papuans’ ability to produce and reproduce their culture. This paper argues that Papuan women possess an unwritten specialized knowledge that is of increased value in a shifting social context and hold new meaning in response to competing influences of non-Papuans.
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