Papua New Guinea

West Papua has been described as “an earthly paradise for anthropological research” where indigenous societies are “untouched by Western culture.” (de Bruijn, 1959) Colonialism has often been considered a force that can corrupt indigenous societies. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that early anthropologists who thought of themselves as the first to touch a “virgin” Papuan culture experienced cognitive dissonance about their own roles in the colonial project. These anthropologists simultaneously imagined that they had the power to destroy indigenous cultures and the scientific prowess to preserve them forever.