Roberto Costa

I am a doctoral researcher in anthropology at Macquarie University, Sydney. My research interests include religion, creativity, performing arts and identity particularly in Eastern Indonesia and Melanesia. My current research focuses on Christianity as a factor of socio-cultural change among Asmat woodcarvers (West Papua, Indonesia). I am also a trained musician and keen photographer.


Research outline

The research project I will conduct in Switzerland focuses on Paul Wirz and materials on Asmat (West Papua, Indonesia) he collected in the period between 1910s and 1950s. I will examine Wirz’s ethnographic collection (partially not catalogued yet) and his notes, photographs, paintings, films and other related material held in the collections of the Museum der Kulturen Basel and Universität Basel and in other institutions abroad (National Museum of Ethnology, Leiden; Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam). The analyses of these rich materials will shed light on Wirz’s biography and Asmat culture during the period of collection. The key output of this project will be a scholarly paper to be submitted to the Journal of the Swiss Anthropological Association Tsantsa by the end of May 2019. A non-scholarly article on the results of the research will be published in the magazine Fu, the principal media outlet for the Asmat region. In this way, the research will also reach and have an impact on Asmat peoples too.