The Catalyst team met with Kai Scott to discuss his upcoming article “Between the Practical and the Discursive: Nation-Building in West Papua” in the upcoming Spring 2021 edition of Chrysalis. In light of recent protests over the mistreatment of West Papuans within Indonesia, Kai examines the construction of nationalism in West Papua, asking what precisely drives West Papuan identity and discontent.
Kai is a third-year Joint Honours International Development and Political Science student at McGill who was born and raised in Grimsby, Ontario. His research interests focus broadly on governance across Southeast Asia with a more specific focus on regime change and Burmese politics. Kai currently acts as Managing Editor of Catalyst, and will become next year’s Editor-in-Chief as in the incoming IDSSA VP Publications.
Kai considers himself incredibly privileged to have been able to take time to study Chinese, bike-pack, and teach English in China, Thailand, and Myanmar immediately following leaving High School. These experiences provided many new perspectives and sparked yet more interests, many of which Kai has pursued through research and study during his time at McGill. After McGill, Kai hopes that, with luck, he will be able to continue to allow similar forms of experiential learning to guide his choices in both study and career.
“Between the Discursive and the Practical” was the product of two separate classes at McGill: “Politics of Southeast Asia” and “Identity and Inequality”. A bad mark on a paper written for the former class led him to revisit the topic out of spite for a term paper in the latter class. This topic—West Papuan protest and discontent—proved well-suited to exploring several thematic elements that had drawn Kai’s attention throughout ‘Identity and Inequality’, specifically the relationship between discourse and institutions. The paper that will be published as part of the Chrysalis Spring 2021 Edition was the end product of this near year-long process.
Video edited by Sena Lee.