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Open Access Koteka are Better than Pants

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Koteka are Better than Pants

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Chapter Summary

In this chapter, the author, Joel Boray, narrates his experiences as a civil servant in the Wamena area (Baliem Valley). He relates incidents when the 'operation penis gourd' (koteka) was launched around 1969 in an attempt make people wear pants and shirts instead of penis gourds. As a civil servant, he enlightened them about hygiene, attempted to make them understand that the cowrie shells were only good for ornamentation, and warned them not to keep fighting. Boray used contact articles such as axes, knives, mirrors, and cowrie shells to get their cooperation. After the Dutch government left, he worked on helping the UNTEA until the UNTEA period ended and Indonesia came in. At the time the Act of Free Choice was carried out, he was still in detention, having been arrested for protesting against the musyawarah system. After being released, he returned to work as a civil servant.

Keywords:Act of Free Choice; Baliem Valley; cowrie shells; Dutch government; Indonesia; koteka; UNTEA

10.1163/9789004260450_009
/content/books/b9789004260450s009
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