"Lipstick Girls" and "Fallen Women": AIDS and Conspiratorial Thinking in Papua, Indonesia:

Leslie Butt

A widespread theory in the province of Papua, Eastern Indonesia, links the spread of sex workers and HIV/AIDS to a broader government conspiracy to eliminate indigenous Papuans. Explicit conspiratorial thinking by indigenous Papuans draws from diverse evidence such as provincial partition legislation, patterns of sex-industry usage, economic transformations, rumors of witchcraft, and new automobile technology. This article argues against treating conspiracy theories about AIDS simply as symbolically powerful rumors expressing indigenous Papuans' perceptions of oppression and unequal access to state resources. Rather, conspiracy theories articulate awareness of inconsistencies in the government's formulation and administration of sexual regulations and AIDS-prevention policies. AIDS conspiracy theories can therefore be understood as pragmatic and detailed interpretations of Papuan lived experiences in a context of ethnically disenfranchising forms of power in post-Suharto Indonesia.

Access to this content is restricted.

  • If you are a AAA member please login to obtain full-text access.
  • If you are not a AAA member you can find out more information and join here https://avectra.aaanet.org/eweb/DynamicPage.aspx?webcode=verify.
  • If you are a library patron of an academic institution, and are experiencing an access issue please contact your library administrator for assistance.
  • If you would like to purchase online access to this single article please locate the article on Wiley Online Library or contact a Wiley-Blackwell customer service representative at cs-journals@wiley.com.