Jaap Timmer

Associate Professor


Research activity per year

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Personal profile

Research interests

I have a broad regional interest in the Southwest Pacific and Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on Melanesia (Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea and West Papua) and Indonesia (Maluku and Kalimantan). I am the author of Living with Intricate Futures (2000), a monograph on knowledge and religion among the Imyan of West Papua, and numerous articles on culture change, millenarianism, and political developments in West Papua and Maluku, and on political ecology and access to justice in Kalimantan. Recently I have begun to focus on historicity, Christianity, and lost tribes in Solomon Islands, and Islamic historiography versus Christian theocracy in West Papua. 


Career highlights

  • In 2015 I was awarded an Australian Research Council’s Discovery Projects grant (150102312) to further my research on the island of Malaita, Solomon Islands. Within the framework of that project I am exploring people's wonder about new global geography and historicity and the ways in which this wonder is opening up a space for local state building by an Evangelical/Pentecostal movement. 
  • Senior Research Fellow and Jakarta-based Project Manager for the Van Vollenhoven Institute (Leiden University) for an Access to Justice project in collaboration with the World Bank and the UNDP, 2007-2010.
  • Writing Fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), Leiden, 2006.
  • Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Research Fellow in the Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies at Radboud University Nijmegen, 2002-2005.
  • Research Fellow in the State, Society and Governance in Melanesia (SSGM) Project, Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, The Australian National University, 2002-2004.
  • Ambon-based Liaison Officer for Development and Emergency Aid in Maluku, Indonesia for CORDAID (Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid) and NOVIB (Oxfam Netherlands), 2000-2002. 


Selected publications 


Timmer, Jaap. 2000. Living with Intricate Futures: Order and Confusion in Imyan Worlds, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. Nijmegen: Centre for Pacific and Asian Studies, University of Nijmegen.


Edited volume

Timmer, Jaap and Matt Tomlinson. 2019. Social Formations of Wonder: Anthropology and Awe. London and New York: Routledge.


Special issues 

Timmer, Jaap, and Matt Tomlinson. 2017. Special issue on The Social Formation of WonderJournal of Religious and Political Practice 3(3).

Bakker, Laurens, and Jaap Timmer. 2014. Special issue on Justice in IndonesiaThe Asia-Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15(4).

Fisher, Daniel, and Jaap Timmer. 2013. Special issue on Becoming Like the StateOceania 48(3).


Articles and chapters


Timmer, Jaap. 2019. Regional Overview: From diversity to multiple singularities. In Eric Hirsch and Will Rollason (eds), The Melanesian World, pp. 126-139. London and New York: Routledge.

Timmer, Jaap. 2018. Legal Pluralism. In Hilary Callan (ed.), International Encyclopedia of Anthropology. New Jersey: Wiley Blackwell.

Bond, Nathan, and Jaap Timmer. 2017. Wondrous Geographies and Historicity for State-building on Malaita, Solomon Islands. Journal of Religious and Political Practice 3(3): 136-151.

Timmer, Jaap. 2015. Building Jerusalem in North Malaita, Solomon Islands. Oceania 85(3): 299-314.

Timmer, Jaap. 2015. Being-in-the-Covenant: Reflections on the Crisis of Historicism in North Malaita, Solomon Islands. In Kalpana Ram and Chris Houston (eds), Phenomenology in Anthropology: A Sense of Perspective, pp. 175-194. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Timmer, Jaap. 2015. Papua Coming of Age: The Cycle of Man’s Civilisation and Two Other Papuan Histories. In Martin Slama and Jenny Munro (eds), From “Stone-Age” to “Real-Time”: Exploring Papuan Temporalities, Mobilities, and Religiosities, pp. 95-124. Canberra: ANU Press.

Timmer, Jaap. 2013. The Threefold Logic of Papua-Melanesia: Constitution-writing in the Margins of the Indonesian Nation-State. Oceania 83(3): 158-174.

Timmer, Jaap. 2011. Cloths of Civilisation: Kain Timur in the Bird's Head of West Papua. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 12(4): 383-401.

Timmer, Jaap. 2010. Being Seen Like the State: Emulations of Legal Culture in Customary Labor and Tenure Arrangements in East Kalimantan, Indonesia. American Ethnologist 37(4): 703-712.

Timmer, Jaap. 2008. Kastom and Theocracy: A Reflection on Governance from North Malaita, Solomon Islands. In Sinclair Dinnen and Stewart Firth (eds), Politics and State Building in Solomon Islands, pp. 194-212. Canberra: Asia Pacific Press

Timmer, Jaap. 2007. A Brief Social and Political History of Papua, 1962-2004. In A.J. Marshall and B.M. Beehler (eds), The Ecology of Papua, pp. 1098-1123. The Ecology of Indonesia Series Volume VI. Singapore: Periplus Editions

Timmer, Jaap. 2007. Erring Decentralisation and Elite Politics in Papua. In Henk Schulte Nordholt and Gerry van Klinken (eds), Renegotiating Boundaries: Local Politics in Post-Suharto Indonesia, pp. 459-482. Leiden: KITLV Press

Timmer, Jaap. 2004. Government, Church, and Millenarian Critique in the Imyan Tradition of the Religious, Irian Jaya, Indonesia. In Holger Jebens (ed.), Cargo, Cult and the Critique of Culture, pp. 117-136. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press



ANTH1007 - Saints, Shamans, Cults and Demons: Religion in the Contemporary World

ANTH2021 - Development Studies: The Anthropology of International Aid

ANTH3000 - Pacific Cultures: Kings, Cannibals and Other Mysteries

ANTH3003 - Anthropology of the City (with Chris Houston)

ANTH3030 - Anthropology and Law 

ANTH7002 - Core Issues in Anthropological Theory II (Ontology, Wonder and Religion)

ANTH8015 - Development Theory and Practice

ANTH800 - Why Culture Matters (Applied Anthropology)


PhD Supervision

Marlon Arthur Huwae, since 2020. Cultures of Fear in West Papua (Indonesia): An Ethnographic Study of Papuan Responses to Covid-19 and Special Autonomy (Principal Supervisor).

Graeme Friedman, since 2019. Self-perpetuating Cycles of Shame and Terror: Racism, Toxic Masculinity and the Psychology of Oppression and Liberation in South Africa. Department of Media, Music, Communication and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University. (Associate Supervisor, Principal Supervisor: Kate Rossmanith).

Daniel Tranter, since 2018. The Temporality of Climate Change among Bajo Laut in Indonesia. (Principal Supervisor)

A Sudiana Sasmita, since 2017. Political Transformation in the Aftermath of Special Autonomy in Papua, Indonesia: Between Resistance and Democratisation. (Associate Supervisor; Principal Supervisor: Lloyd Cox)

Lucinda Casbolt, since 2016. Investigating Experiences of the ‘Bicycle Renaissance’ in Contemporary Cities. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Associate Supervisor; Principal Supervisor: Chris Houston)

Roberto Costa, 2016-2020. Material Reconciliations and Power Restoration: Woodcarving, Museums and Prestige among Asmat (Papua, Indonesia). Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principal Supervisor)

Belinda Lopez, 2015-2019. Finding Papua in Java: Papuans Encounter Stories about the Past and Themselves and Tete (creative component). Department of Anthropology and Department of Media and Cultural Studies, Macquarie University. (Associate Supervisor; Principal Supervisor: Kate Rossmanith)

Maarten Lecompte, 2016-2018. The Emerging Story Writer: A study of linguistic and meta-linguistic phenomena in the writing of Cèmuhi, a Melanesian Language of New Caledonia. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principal Supervisor)

Sophie Chao, 2015-2018. Dispersed Ontologies in Marind, West Papua. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principal Supervisor). Awarded the Vice-Chancellor’s Commendation for Research Excellence on 6 February 2018.

Mariske Westendorp, 2012-2016. “In the Eye of the Typhoon”: Aspirations of Buddhists and Catholics in Turbulent Hong Kong. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principal Supervisor)

Charlotte Keskin-Joppien, 2010-2013. Culture of Everyday Politics – Politics of Everyday Culture: An Inquiry into Municipal Politics in Konya and Eskişehir. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Associate Supervisor; Principal Supervisor: Chris Houston)

Anton Piyarathne, 2010-2014. Constructing Commongrounds: Everyday Lifeworlds beyond Politicised Ethnicities in Sri Lanka. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principle Supervisor)

Sean Durbin, 2010-2013. The Revelation of John (Hagee): American Christian Zionism, “Religion,” “Politics,” and Identity. Department of Modern History, Macquarie University. (Associate Supervisor; Principal Supervisor: Marion Maddox)

Johanes Herlijanto, 2009-2012. Emulating China: Representation of China and the Contemporary Critique of Indonesia. Department of Anthropology, Macquarie University. (Principle Supervisor)

Budi Hernawan, 2008-2012. From the Theatre of Torture to the Theatre of Peace: The Politics of Torture and Re-imagining Peacebuilding in Papua, Indonesia. Australian National University. (Associate Supervisor, Principal Supervisor: John Braithwaite).

Rikardo Simarmata, 2007-2012. Indonesian Law and Reality in the Delta: A Socio-legal Inquiry into Laws, Local Bureaucrats and Natural Resources Management in the Mahakam Delta, East Kalimantan. Department of Law, Leiden University. (Associate Supervisor, Principal Supervisor: J.M. Otto)


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