Encounters with the Dani

Stories from the Baliem Valley

By Susan Meiselas
(Steidl Dap, Hardcover, 9783882439304, 195pp.)

Publication Date: October 2003

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Description
In her most recent body of work, acclaimed photographer Susan Meiselas pieces together verbal and visual traces of encounters with the Dani--an indigenous people of the West Papuan highlands--from the nearly six decades since their "discovery" by the West. In this subjective, fragmentary history, Meiselas draws from the experiences of missionaries, colonists, anthropologists and modern-day ecotourists, all of whom have come to the Dani's Baliem Valley and transformed the conditions under which they live. The ambiguous relations between power and representation--whether in the form of Dutch colonial patrol notes from the 1930s, the sensationalized media accounts of the survivors of a downed U.S. army plane in "Shangri-La" from the 1940s or a tourist's snapshots from the 1990s--become visible in Meiselas's book, through both the contradictions and unexpected continuities of the gathered materials.

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