politics of power

Even as Major General Suharto consolidated his power in the bloodletting of the mid-sixties, Freeport-McMoRan, the American transnational mining company, signed a contract with the new military regime, the first foreign company to do so. Today, in the isolated jungles of West Papua, a region that is increasingly restive under Indonesian rule, Freeport lays claim to the world's largest gold mine and one of its richest and most profitable copper mines. This volume is the first major analysis of the company's presence in Indonesia. It takes a close and detailed look at the changing nature of power relations between Freeport and Suharto, the Indonesian military, the traditional landowners (the Amungme and Kamoro), and environmental and human rights groups. It examines how and why an American company, despite such rigorous home-state laws, was able to operate in West Papua with impunity for nearly thirty years and adapt to, indeed thrive in, a business culture anchored in corruption, collusion, and nepotism.

quotes about the book

"Fine investigative journalism as well as good scholarship"
The International History Review, June 2004
"Timely and welcome"
Sydney Morning Herald, 28 June 2003
"It would be difficult to write a dull book about Freeport McMoran's operations in West Papua.... Denise Leith has done the story justice and has succeeded in her stated goal to write the definitive account of Freeport's engagement with Suharto's Indonesia."
Journal of Asian Studies, August 2003
"This is an impressive book and an important contribution to the study of Suharto’s Indonesia. It is researched in great detail, and takes a measured and well-balanced approach to contentious issues. Leith is to be congratulated for bringing much-needed academic scrutiny to a company operating largely outside the spotlight."
Inside Indonesia
"Leith's well written account, ... is not a one-sided leftist or green diatribe. A former stockbroker, she visited the Freeport operations in Papua and presents the company's perspectives as well as those of its critics. She underlines the profound problems that arise when a western company enters a tribal environment such as Papua's: "Cultural differences can blur lines of communication, leading to misunderstandings, resentment, and inappropriate development programs."
Contemporary Southeast Asia
"Denise Leith has described in vivid detail the ways in which the interests of the native West Papuans and their environment have been sacrificed to the greed and ruthlessness of Western capital and genocidal Third World military...this book is required reading."
Peter Carey, Trinity College, Oxford.
"An impressive effort and one that serious students of Indonesia, of international political economy, and of the complex issues of human rights and development will appreciate."
Daniel Lev, University of Washington
"The nature of the Indonesian intelligence and military programs in West Papua makes information from the province difficult to obtain and qualify, which is why Leith's exhaustive study of the company...is so revealing. In documenting the company's history and its relations with the Soeharto regime and the military, she reveals a system that some Australian writers in the field during the former president's time tried to gloss over. Leith offers a clearly written re-assessment of the business environment in Indonesia."
Mines and Communities
" (the book) is a testament to Leith’s vigorous scholarship and courageous investigative reporting."
Bali Advertiser