Women and LGBTQ in Indonesia (Annotated Bibliography)
Women and LGBTQ in Indonesia (Annotated Bibliography)
Compiled by: Regina Salinas
Directed Individual Study, Fall 2014
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
Aisyah, Siti, and Lyn Parker. 2014. “Problematic Conjugations: Women’s Agency, Marriage and Domestic Violence in Indonesia.” Asian Studies Review 38 (June): 205-223.
This paper examines women’s experience of domestic violence within marriage in Makassar, South Sulawesi. It analyses the meaning of marriage for men and women, the roles of men and women within marriage, shifts in marriage practices – particularly the shift from arranged to “love” marriage – and unequal gender positions within marriage. We discuss some salient issues in the “margins of marriage” in Indonesia: polygamy and constructions of masculinity that condone the practice of polygamy /affairs, and attitudes towards divorce, particularly for women. We then examine women’s perception of the causes and triggers of domestic violence as revealed by fieldwork data, using the lens of women’s agency. Our findings are that women perceive that their expressions of agency – for instance in challenging men’s authority, moral righteousness and adequacy as breadwinners – are the most common triggers for male violence within marriage. Finally, we discuss the difficulty for women of escaping domestic violence, thereby getting some purchase on the relative capacity of women to resist, deflect or deal with the violence.
Aripurnami, Sita. 2000. “Whiny, Finicky, Bitchy, Stupid and Revealing: The Image of Women in Indonesian Film.” In Indonesian Women: the Journey Continues, eds. Carla Bianpoen and Mayling Oey-Gardiner. Canberra: Research School of Pacific and Asian Studies, 50–65.
Through a series of provocative and unflinching essays, it provides a perspective on the concerns and aspirations of Indonesian women in a wide variety of social, cultural, religious, economic, and organizational contexts. It carries their struggle through the repressive years of the Suharto regime and into the recent period of crisis and rapid political adjustment.
Bessell, Sharon and Kathryn Robinson. 2002. Women in Indonesia: Gender, Equity and Development. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.
In 2001 Indonesia appointed its first female President – Megawati Sukarnoputri. This book explores gender relations in Indonesia and presents an overview of the political, social, cultural and economic situation of women.
Blackburn, Susan 1999. “Gender, Violence and the Indonesian Political Transition” Asian Studies Review 23 (December): 233–248.
During the riots of mid-May 1998, a large number if Indonesian women were brutally mass raped, apparently in a systematic fashion. The issue received widespread publicity, not only in Indonesia, but also around the world, being taken up particularly by people of Chinese origin, since most of the victims were of Chinese decent. This article will argue that the case highlights both the opportunities and dangers for Indonesian women inherent in the current attempted transition to democracy in that country.
Blackwood, Evelyn. 2008. “Gender, Violence and the Indonesian Political Transition” Gender & Society 12 (April): 221–242.
The practice of “ritual transvestism” appears to have been widespread in Southeast Asia from pre-Islamic times. Accounts of ritual transvestic figures appear in colonial and court documents; mythological literature; and ethnohistoric records produced by colonial officials, missionaries, and anthropologists. Western observers stated that many of these individuals were males who “dressed as women,” but a few were indentified as females who “acted like men.” In the late twentieth century, a burgeoning lesbian gay movement in Indonesia and elsewhere in Southeast Asia brought into view a range of genders and sexualities, some of which seem to draw older models of the ritual transvestite who “switched” genders. Male transgendered individuals, called “banci” or “waria” are prominent in urban areas in Indonesia and figured in theatrical and television performances. Transgendered females are much less obvious in the media or in public spaces; the most publicly recognized figure is the “tomboi,” the female who identifies as and acts as a man.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2006. “Gay and Lesbian Indonesian and the Idea of the Nation.” Social Analysis 50 (Spring): 158-163.
In this article the author discusses the position of gay men and lesbians in Indonesia in 2006 stating that the lives of these citizens provide valuable clues to how being Indonesian is defined and to the workings of nation-states more generally. The author examines the role of gay men and lesbians in a country where family is defined as a heterosexual construct and integral to the notion of an imagined nation.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2005. The Gay Archipelago: Sexuality and Nation in Indonesia. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
The Gay Archipelago is the first book-length exploration of the lives of gay men in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation and home to more Muslims than any other country. Based on a range of field methods, it explores how Indonesian gay and lesbian identities are shaped by nationalism and globalization. Yet the case of gay and lesbian Indonesians also compels us to ask more fundamental questions about how we decide when two things are “the same” or “different.” The book thus examines the possibilities of an “archipelagic” perspective on sameness and difference. Tom Boellstorff examines the history of homosexuality in Indonesia, and then turns to how gay and lesbian identities are lived in everyday Indonesian life, from questions of love, desire, and romance to the places where gay men and lesbian women meet. He also explores the roles of mass media, the state, and marriage in gay and lesbian identities. The Gay Archipelago is unusual in taking the whole nation-state of Indonesia as its subject, rather than the ethnic groups usually studied by anthropologists. It is by looking at the nation in cultural terms, not just political terms, that identities like those of gay and lesbian Indonesians become visible and understandable. In doing so, this book addresses questions of sexuality, mass media, nationalism, and modernity with implications throughout Southeast Asia and beyond.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2004. “Authentic, of course!”: Gay Language in Indonesia and Cultures of Belonging” In Speaking in Queer Tongues: Globalization and Gay Language, eds. William Leap and Tom Boellstorff. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 181–201.
Language is a fundamental tool for shaping identity and community, including the expression (or repression) of sexual desire. “Speaking in Queer Tongues” investigates the tensions and adaptations that occur when processes of globalization bring one system of gay or lesbian language into contact with another. Western constructions of gay culture are now circulating widely beyond the boundaries of Western nations due to influences as diverse as Internet communication, global dissemination of entertainment and other media, increased travel and tourism, migration, displacement, and transnational citizenship. The authority claimed by these constructions, and by the linguistic codes embedded in them, is causing them to have a profound impact on public and private expressions of homosexuality in locations as diverse as sub-Saharan Africa, New Zealand, Indonesia and Israel. Examining a wide range of global cultures, “Speaking in Queer Tongues” presents essays on topics that include old versus new sexual vocabularies, the rhetoric of gay-oriented magazines and news media, verbal and non-verbalized sexual imagery in poetry and popular culture, and the linguistic consequences of the globalized gay rights movement.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2001. “Playing Back the Nation: Waria, Indonesian Transvestites” Cultural Anthropology 19 (August): 159–95.
Waria (better known as banci or béncong), who can be provisionally defined as male-to-female transvestites, are well-known members of contemporary Indonesian society. Waria are best understood not as a third gender but a male femininity. By exploring how waria reconfigure concepts of authenticity, the author addresses the relationship between the waria subject position and Indonesian national culture.
Boellstorff, Tom. 1999. “The Perfect Path: Gay Men, Marriage, Indonesia,” Gay Lesbian Queer 5 (December): 475–510.
An exploration of gay and lesbian identities in Indonesia is presented. Topics include an Indonesian gay culture that is not judged in terms of its sameness or difference in relation to Western culture, analysis of a society where gay men marry women to have children, and an exploration of gay identity from a postcolonial standpoint.
Davies, Sharyn Graham. 2010. Gender Diversity in Indonesia: Sexuality, Islam and Queer Selves. New York: Routledge.
Same-sex relations, transvestism and cross-gender behaviour have long been noted amongst a wide range of Indonesian peoples. Based on extensive ethnographic research, this book explores dominant theories of gender and sexuality in relation to gender diversity in Indonesia. It discusses in particular intersexed groups, such as ‘calalai’,‘calabai’ and ‘bissu’.
Epley, Jennifer. 2013. “The Politics of Heteronormativity for Indonesian Waria in YouTube Videos.” Gender Questions 1 (January): 83-97.
Through the lenses of structuration and gender performativity, this article investigates how select YouTube videos speak to the complexities of waria identities and the politics of heteronormativity. Waria are male-to-female transgendered individuals in Indonesia. Although the YouTube videos often try to ‘humanise’ and ‘normalise’ waria to non-waria viewers with the hope that such exposure can lead to greater tolerance and support, the videos present particular images and messages that, at times, reinforce a heterosexist gender binary framework, while on other occasions resist that system or duality. Using an interpretative approach, the analysis treats the videos as data and texts. The general orientation of this type of content analysis is to uncover patterns of actions and meanings. This article pays special attention to the ways in which identity is socially constructed, and how the YouTube videos both support and challenge current dominant discourses about gender in Indonesia.
Fattore, Christina, Thomas Scotto, and Arnita Sitasari. 2010. “Support for Women Officeholders in a Non-Arab Islamic Democracy: The Case of Indonesia.” Australian Journal of Political Science 45 (June): 261-275.
Recent work argues that the relationship between Islamic faith, the lack of support for gender equality and democratization is spurious. This paper analyzes the correlates of individual support for increasing the number of women serving in Indonesian legislatures. Indonesia is a relevant case because it is an emerging democracy, outside of the oil-rich Middle East, where over 85% of the citizenry registers a Muslim faith. We find that the willingness of Indonesians to support or oppose gender equity in politics is only minimally rooted in their faith or culture. This result buttresses the conclusions of cross-national studies that question the appropriateness of treating predominantly Muslim nations in the same way when studying questions of gender equity and democratization.
Florida, Nancy K. 1996. “Sex Wars: Writing Gender Relations in Nineteenth-Century Java” In Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie Jo Sears. Durham: Duke University Press, 207–224.
The stories of Indonesian women have often been told by Indonesian men and Dutch men and women. This volume asks how these representations—reproduced, transformed, and circulated in history, ethnography, and literature—have circumscribed feminine behavior in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia. Presenting dialogues between prominent scholars of and from Indonesia and Indonesian women working in professional, activist, religious, and literary domains, the book dissolves essentialist notions of “women” and “Indonesia” that have arisen out of the tensions of empire. The contributors examine the ways in which Indonesian women and men are enmeshed in networks of power and then pursue the stories of those who, sometimes at great political risk, challenge these powers. In this juxtaposition of voices and stories, we see how indigenous patriarchal fantasies of feminine behavior merged with Dutch colonial notions of proper wives and mothers to produce the Indonesian government’s present approach to controlling the images and actions of women. Facing the theoretical challenge of building a truly cross-cultural feminist analysis, Fantasizing the Feminine takes us into an ongoing conversation that reveals the contradictions of postcolonial positioning and the fragility of postmodern identities.
Ford, Michele and Lyn Parker. 2008. Women and Work in Indonesia. New York: Routledge.
This book examines the meaning of work for women in contemporary Indonesia. It takes a broad definition of work in order to interrogate assumptions about work and economic activity, focusing on what women themselves see as their work, which includes not only paid employment, home life and child care, but also activities surrounding ritual, healing and religious life. It analyses the key issues, including the contrasts between ‘new’ and ‘old’ forms of work, the relationship between experiences of migration and work, and the ways in which religion – especially Islam – shapes perceptions and practice of work. It discusses women’s work in a range of different settings, both rural and urban, and in different locations, covering Sumatra, Bali, Lombok, Java, Sulawesi and Kalimantan. A wide range of types of employment are considered: agricultural labour, industrial work and new forms of work in the tertiary sector such as media and tourism, demonstrating how capitalism, globalization and local culture together produce gendered patterns of work with particular statuses and identities. It address the question of the meaning and valuing of women’s ‘traditional’ work, be it agricultural labour, domestic work or other kinds of reproductive labour, challenging assumptions of women as ‘only’ mothers and housewives, and demonstrating how women can negotiate new definitions of ‘housewife’ by mobilizing kinship and village relations to transcend conventional categories such as wage labour and the domestic sphere. Overall, this book is an important study of the meaning of work for women in Indonesia.
Gade, Fakhrurradzie and Niniek Karmini. 2014. Huffington Post. “Indonesia’s Aceh Province Considers Caning As Gay Sex Punishment” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/indonesia-gay-sex-caning-_n_5872610.html?utm_hp_ref=indonesia September 24. (accessed October 19, 2014).
People caught having homosexual sex could be publicly caned in Indonesia’s conservative Aceh province if an Islam-inspired draft law is approved this week. Lawmaker Moharriadi Syafari said a majority of provincial legislators supported criminalizing gay sex. They are debating the law with a view to passing it and several others regulating personal behavior before Friday, the last day of the current assembly. Gay rights activist King Oey said Wednesday he will urge the central government to use its influence to get the bill scrapped or appeal to the country’s Constitutional Court.
Gayatri, B.J.D. 1995. “Indonesian Lesbians Writing Their Own Script: Issues of Feminism and Sexuality” In From Amazon to Zami: Towards a Global Lesbian Feminism, ed. Monika Reinfelders. London: Cassell, 86–98.
This work explores the existence of a global network of lesbian activists in Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa, Asia and the Pacific. The chapter addressing Indonesian feminism and sexuality, place lesbian concerns in the context of national politics and prevailing attitudes toward women and sexuality. A wide range of women debate their ability to be politically active and openly lesbian in countries that are (at best) hostile to the issues of homosexuality and feminism.
Gerke, Solvay. 1992 “Indonesian National Development Ideology and the Role of Women.” Indonesian Cycle 59/60 (November): 45–56.
The author briefly outlines the essence of the development ideology and discusses the special role which women have been designated. Family planning is said to be the central concern of female responsibility in the developmental process. Thus, the author discusses the state’s and women’s motives in proclaiming or using contraceptives to argue that the success of family planning in Java is likely to be a result of more female autonomy and life planning capacity.
Hatley, Barbara. 2007. “Subverting the Stereotypes: Women Performers Contest Gender Images, Old and New.” RIMA: Review Of Indonesian & Malaysian Affairs 41 (December): 173–204.
The article focuses on the controversies about gender identity, ideologies, and discrimination during the New Order regime under President Suharto. According to the author, the end of the New Order regime gave various opportunities for women including freedom from gender ideologies, participate in social, and political issues, and sexual expression. It also discusses the controversies on gender issues including the anti-pornography law in 2006, the government’s protest against young female journalists, and the performances of groups including Teater Abu, Sahita, and Cok Sawitri.
JooEan, Tan. 2010. “Social Relationships in the Modern Age: Never-married Women in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila.” Journal of Comparative Family Studies 41 (Autumn): 749-765.
This exploratory paper uses Giddens’s paradigm of social change to examine the social relationships of never-married professional women in Bangkok, Jakarta and Manila. Based on in-depth interviews, two related questions are addressed: First, how do never-married women view their place in their family network? Second, what sources of social support are available to these women? The findings show that while social relationships are being reshaped by the powerful impact of modernity, the outcome of Giddens’s modernity is not uniform in these three social settings. Local context plays an important role in shaping the outcome.
Koning, Juliette, Marleen Nolten, et al. 2000. Indonesia: Cultural Notions and Social Practices. Richmond, Surrey, UK: Curzon Press.
Critically examines the usefulness of the ‘household; concept within the historically andculturally diverse context of Indonesia, exploring in detail the position of women within and beyond domestic arrangements. So far, classical household and kinship studies have not studied how women deal with two major forces which shape and define their world: local kinship traditions, and the universalizing ideology of the Indonesian regime, which both provide prescriptions and prohibitions concerning family, marriage, and womanhood. Women are caught between these conflicting notions and practices. How they challenge or accommodate such forces is the main issue in this book.
Murray, A.J. 1997. “Male Actresses in Islamic Parts of Indonesia and the Southern Philippines” In Islamic Homosexualities: Culture, History, and Literature, eds. Will Roscoe and Stephen O. Murray. New York: New York University Press, 256–261.
Although gender and sexuality may be distuinguished analytically, they are far from being independent from each other. Indeed, outside of the elite realm of academic gender discoursing, sexuality, and gender generally are expected to coincide. That is, effeminate males are widely supposed to be sexually receptive, masculine persons to be insertive. Across Indonesia, traveling troupes of entertainers provide occupational niche for men attracted to men and for men who act women’s roles.
Murtagh, Ben. 2011. “Gay, Lesbi and Waria Audiences in Indonesia.” Indonesia & the Malay World 39 (November): 391-415.
Since the fall of President Suharto in 1998, Indonesian cinema has been noted for its concern with the representation of gay and lesbi sexualities. However, even during the New Order (1966–1998) a small number of films were produced which represented non-normative genders and sexualities. To date there has been no research on how Indonesia’s sexual minorities respond to representations of themselves in film. Drawing on a number of focus groups conducted with gay, lesbi and waria Indonesians in Surabaya in 2008, this article examines the variety of responses and discussions that arose from watching Wahyu Sihombing’s 1988 film Istana kecantikan (Palace of beauty). These responses are contextualised by examining the press reports of the film when it was screened at the 1988 Indonesian Film Festival. While this film has recently been disparaged by film-literate critics as being depressing and homophobic, this article demonstrates that it was still seen as meaningful to many of the gay and waria focus group participants. The more film-literate discussants however, particularly from the lesbi group, responded to the film far less positively. Whilst informing the researcher as to the possible variety of meanings that audiences might draw from the film, this research method also highlights the potential role that viewing such films may play in prompting gay, lesbi and waria individuals to think about their own identities in new ways.
Norimitsu Onishi. 2009. New York Times. “For These Transvestites, Still More Role Changes” http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/29/world/asia/29briefs-Shariah.html October 28. (accessed October 19, 2014).
Muslim women in a district in Aceh Province will be forbidden to wear tight pants or jeans under a regulation that will go into effect in January. Officials in West Aceh district said the Shariah police, who are charged with enforcing Islamic law, will shred any offensive clothing and require women in tight pants to change into government-issued skirts. The district has already ordered 7,000 skirts of various sizes. Last month, Aceh Province’s Parliament passed an Islamic penal code that could subject adulterers to death by stoning.
Oetomo, Dédé. 1996. “Gender and Sexual Orientation in Indonesia” In Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie Jo Sears. Durham: Duke University Press, 207–224.
In the chapter, the author addresses how gender and sexual orientation are related in the construction of sexuality in Indonesian society. First, the author will address how the category of banci in construed differently by average Indonesians, by the banci themselves, and gay men. To further clarify the category, the author will examine it in juxtaposition wit the categories laki or laki-laki and perempuan, paying attention to the different constructions of maleness and femaleness by banci and gay men, on the one hand, and society at large on the other.
Offord, Baden. 2003. Homosexual Rights as Human Rights: Activism in Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. Bern: Peter Lang International Academic Publishers.
This book examines homosexual rights as human rights in the light of recent insights of cultural theory into identity, cultural values, rights discourse and homosexuality. The focus of the study is on the activist who is regarded as both the representative of perspectives, actions and attitudes as well as the embodiment of tensions and broader struggles that reflect and rupture dominant discourses of power. The book interrogates the homosexual activist and the theory and practice of human rights in three distinct nations: Indonesia, Singapore and Australia. It discusses and analyses the ways in which activists in these three polities devise strategies of survival and negotiate the limits of justice. The interface between Australia and Southeast Asia is a poignant context, which highlights different and overlapping (Western and Asian) perspectives on notions of rights, law, identity, activism, culture and sexuality.
Offord, Baden and Leon Cantrell. 2001. “Homosexual Rights as Human Rights in Indonesia and Australia” In Gay and Lesbian Asia: Culture, Identity, Community, eds. Gerard Sullivan and Peter A. Jackson. New York: Harrington Park Press, 2001, 233–252.
The book demonstrates the astonishing diversity of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered identities in countries including Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines. Although many Asian cultures borrow the language of the West when discussing queerness, the attitudes, relationships, and roles described are quite different. The chapter on Indonesia illustrates the effects of class distinctions on Jakarta lesbians.
Perlez, Jane. 2006. New York Times. “Spread of Islamic Law in Indonesia Takes Toll on Women” http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/27/world/asia/27indo.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 June 27. (accessed October 19, 2014).
Nearly 30 local governments have introduced Shariah laws or Shariah-inspired legislation, from Aceh in the far north where Shariah laws have lain quiescent on the books for several years but are now being carried out by special Shariah courts, to southern Sulawesi and to small islands farther west. The news article addresses how tese laws have negatively impacted Indonesian women.
Perlez, Jane. 2003. New York Times. “For These Transvestites, Still More Role Changes ” http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/24/indonesia-gay-sex-caning-_n_5872610.html?utm_hp_ref=indonesia July 24. (accessed October 19, 2014).
The news article sheds light on the life of a typical transvestite in Indonesian society. It describes the growth of transvestites in the public. Also, the article describes the role of transvestites in relation to the government.
Rinaldo, Rachel. 2011. “Muslim Women, Moral Visions: Globalization and Gender Controversies in Indonesia.” Qualitative Sociology 34 (December): 539-560.
Since 1998, Indonesia’s democratization has produced contentious public debates, many of which revolve around issues of gender and sexual morality. Yet such controversies not only often focus on women, but also involve women as participants. This article examines how Muslim women activists in two organizations adapt global discourses to participate in important public sphere debates about pornography and polygamy. Indonesia’s moral debates demonstrate an important way in which global discourses are negotiated in national settings. In the debates, some pious women use discourses of feminism and liberal Islam to argue for women’s equality, while others use Islam to call for greater moral regulation of society. My research demonstrates that global discourses of feminism and Islamic revivalism are mediated through national organizations which shape women’s political activism and channel it in different directions. Women’s political subjectivities are thus shaped through their involvement in national organizations that structure the ways they engage with global discourses. The Indonesian case shows not only that the national should not be conflated with the local, but also demonstrates the significance of national contexts and histories for understanding global processes.
Robinson, Kathryn. 2000. “Indonesian Women: From Ordre Baru to Reformasi” In Women in Asia: Tradition Modernity and Globalisation, eds. Louise Edwards and Mina Roces. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin, 139–169.
The chapter addressed social changes in Indonesian society resulting from the development strategy of the New Order government and the related opening of the archipelago to the global economy and culture. These dramatic social changes have affected not only the manner of women’s economic participation, but the modes of expression of femininity.
Robinson, Paul. 1999. “Women: Difference versus Diversity” In Indonesia Beyond Soeharto: Polity, Economy, Society, Transition, ed. Donald K. Emmerson. New York: M.E. Sharpe, 237–261.
The New Order promoted gender differences. Officially sponsored images of femininity portrayed Indonesian women as subordinate to men, within the family and state. This chapter places such policies in social context, reviews their implications for women, and explores the gender-differentiated impact of the New Order’s approach to development.
Schech, Susanne and Mochamad Mustafa. 2010. “The Politics of Gender Mainstreaming Poverty Reduction: An Indonesian Case Study.” Social Politics: International Studies in Gender, State and Society 17 (January): 111-135.
Critical feminist reviews of gender mainstreaming suggest a widespread disillusionment with gender and development. The literature has been dominated, however, by accounts of gender mainstreaming in international development institutions and in Western countries. There is a shortage of studies on how developing countries conceptualize, design and manage gender mainstreaming in development policies and programs in specific political and economic contexts. This paper focuses on Indonesia which made gender mainstreaming a national policy while battling the impacts of the Asian economic crisis and experiencing a political transition from authoritarianism to democracy. This strategic moment created some opportunities and challenges for government, NGO, and international gender and development advocates to integrate gender into the national poverty reduction policy. An analysis of the policy drafts and interviews with key players in the policy process shows that gender expertise, institutional capacity, organizational resistance, and leadership at the national level were important factors. Broader political concerns such as the diminished standing of World Bank and the IMF in post-crisis Indonesia also played a role in the long-winded policy process that produced the Indonesia’s National Poverty Reduction Strategy. One important lesson drawn from this case study is the need to indigenize gender mainstreaming, by building gender analysis capabilities in national women’s machineries and forging stronger links with national and local gender-concerned NGOs and research institutions. Secondly, translating gender-aware poverty reduction policies into gender-responsive action remains a great challenge not only in Indonesia but elsewhere due to paucity of relevant gender-disaggregated data.
Schonhardt, Sara. 2013. New York Times. “Indonesian Women Told How to Ride Motorbikes” http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/world/asia/indonesian-city-plans-to-ban-women-from-straddling-motorbikes.html January 14. (accessed October 19, 2014).
A plan by officials in an Indonesian city to ban women from straddling motorbikes has prompted an outcry from critics, who say local leaders are infringing on women’s safety and freedom in the name of religion.
Sullivan, Norma. 1994. Masters and Managers: A Study of Gender Relations in Urban Java, Women in Asia Publication Series. Sydney: Allen & Unwin.
Masters and Managers clarifies certain misconceptions about women’s status and position in Javanese society. Important among these are the myths that Javanese women’s control of the household purse-strings gives them an exceptionally high status, strengthened by their central role in the matrifocal pattern of the Javanese bilateral kinship system. Such myths, which have roots in older Javanese gender views and stereotypes, are accepted within the community and are recreated and transmitted through contemporary media, not least among them the gender discourse of the “modern housewife.” This discourse is embodied in one of the Suharto state’s national development programs which targets women as its implementers.
Suvianita, Kanis. 2013. “Human Rights and the LGBTI Movement in Indonesia.” Asian Journal of Women’s Studies 19 (January): 127-138.
LGBT movements in Indonesia were started by the waria (transgender male to female) group in the 1960s in Jakarta and have inspired gay and lesbian people to create their organizations in the 1980s and late 1990s. The groups have been struggling and voicing concerns for their category of people and to campaign for their rights. Gay people started with HIV and AIDS issues and lesbian people have come together in feminist group campaigns for women rights. They never came together as a larger group until 2010, when the ILGA Conference in Surabaya was attacked by Islamic fundamentalist groups. LGBTI people are aware that they comprise a category and are committed to build the LGBTIQ Indonesia Forum as a space to voicing their rights together. In 2011, LGBTI people started their work for human rights and have documented LGBTI human rights violations seriously.
Additional resources compiled by Camila Costadoni (March 30, 2015):
Balgos, Benigno, J.C. Gaillard, and Kristinne Sanz. “The warias of Indonesia in disaster risk reduction: the case of the 2010 Mt Merapi eruption in Indonesia.” Gender & Development 20, no. 2 (July 2012): 337-348.
This field note draws upon the concepts of vulnerability, marginalisation, and capacity of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people to face natural hazards. As a case study, this paper highlights the response of warias, members of the LGBT community in Indonesia, during the 2010 Mt Merapi eruption. Through key informant interviews and observation of actual relief operations led by warias in several evacuation sites in Yogyakarta and Central Java, the paper highlights that warias contributed to disaster risk reduction (DRR) even though they are marginalised and discriminated in the country because of prevailing religious and societal attitudes. The paper argues that their needs and capacities should be acknowledged in DRR policies and practice.
Blackwood, Evelyn. “Regulation of sexuality in Indonesian discourse: Normative gender, criminal law and shifting strategies of control.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 9, no. 3 (May 2007): 293-307.
This paper examines changes in the regulation of sexuality in Indonesia in the period since 1980 as seen through state, religious and lesbian and gay activist discourses on sexuality. Three different eras during that period of Indonesian history are compared. Under the New Order regime of Suharto, the Indonesian state sought to control sexuality through a deployment of gender. During the 1990s, state Islamic discourses of sexuality shifted in response to international pressures to support same-sex marriage and sexual rights. During the third period following the end of the Suharto regime in 1998, a conservative Islamic minority pushed for more restrictive laws in the State Penal Code, initiating intense public debate on the role of the state in questions of sexuality and morality. Over this time period, the dominant discourse on sexuality moved from strategically linking normative gender with heterosexuality and marriage to direct attempts to legislate heterosexual marriage by criminalizing a wide range of sexual practices.
Blackwood, Evelyn. 2005. “Transnational Sexualities in One Place: Indonesian Readings.” Gender and Society 19 (April): 221-242.
In studies of transnational sexualities, locality has remained a contentious but important site to disrupt the universalizing tendencies of queer academic and activist discourses. In this article, the author uses a feminist approach to transnational studies of sexualities that takes into account particular locales within the global movements of queer idsentities and discourses. She does so by examiningthe way individuals in West Sumatra, Indonesia, access and appropriate circuits of knowledge to produce their gendered and sexual subjectivities. The locality the author examines is Padang, West Sumatra, a part of the Indonesian state that is ethnically Minangkabau, devoutly Islamic, and matrilineal. Through stories of lesbi in Padang, the author demonstrates the way state and Islamic discourses shape gendered subjectivities that are not always explicitly resistant. At the same time, the circulation of queer knowledge creates an imagined space for a community of like-minded individuals.
Blackwood, Evelyn. 2005. “Gender Transgression in Colonial and Postcolonial Indonesia.” The Journal of Asian Studies 64 (November): 849-879.
This article examines “the cultural discourses and narratives that produce particular gendered practices deemed outside and therefore transgressive of normative gender in various time periods. [The author] argues that these gendered practices are differently produced, understood, and interiorized in relation to the dominant religious, cultural, and social discourses of particular historical eras.”
Blackwood, Evelyn. 1998. “Tombois in West Sumatra: Constructing Masculinity and Erotic Desire.” Cultural Anthropology 13 (November): 491-521.
This article explores how tombois in West Sumatra both shape their identities from and resist local, national, and transnational narratives of gender and sexuality. By focusing on West Sumatra, I provide an in-depth analysis of the complexities of tomboi identity for individuals from one ethnic group in Indonesia, the Minangkabau. This piece is not a general explication of tombois across Indonesia, although there may be considerable overlap (see Wieringa 1998). Much excellent work on postcolonial states explores the interplay of national and transnational narratives in the production of genders and sexualities. This article provides a cultural location for tombois oriented to Minangkabau culture as well as national and transnational discourses
Boellstorff, Tom. 2005. “Between Religion and Desire: Being Muslim and Gay in Indonesia.” American Anthropologist 107 (December): 575-585.
Thousands of Indonesian men now identify as both “gay” and “Muslim.” How do these men understand the relationship between religion and sexuality? How do these understandings reflect the fact that they live in the nation that is home to more Muslims than any other? In this article, I address questions such as these through an ethnographic study of gay Muslims. I argue that dominant social norms render being gay and being Muslim “ungrammatical” with each other in the public sphere that is crucial to Muslim life in Indonesia. Through examining doctrine, interpretation, and community, I explore how gay Muslim subjectivity takes form in this incommensurability between religion and desire.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2004. “Playing Back the Nation: Waria, Indonesian Transvestites.” Cultural Anthropology 19 (May): 159-195.
This article, part of a larger project on nonnormative genders and sexualities in Indonesia, represents one step toward a more sustained exploration of waria life.
Boellstorff, Tom. 2003. “Dubbing Culture: Indonesian ‘Gay’ and ‘Lesbi’ Subjectivities and Ethnography in an Already Globalized World.” American Anthropology 30 (May): 225-242.
In this article I explore how Indonesians come to see themselves as lesbi or gay through fragmentary encounters with mainstream mass media (rather than lesbian and gay Westerners or Western lesbian and gay media). By placing this ethnographic material alongside a recent debate on the dubbing of foreign television programs into the Indonesian language, I develop a theoretical framework of “dubbing culture” to critically analyze globalizing processes.
Izharuddin, Alicia. “Same-sex intimacies in Syariffudin’s Mairil and the queering of authenticity.” Inter-Asia Cultural Studies14, no. 4 (December 2013): 538-550.
The rise in LGBT-themed novels in Indonesia over the last decade demonstrates the sea-change in social attitudes and the public presence of sexual and gender minorities in Indonesia. The genre emerges from the popularity of sexually-charged novels by female authors such as Ayu Utami and Djenar Maesa Ayu. However, many novels were criticised for the supposed westernisation of Indonesian culture that threatens the national identity and moral disposition of its readers. This article explores the underlying themes of these criticisms—nationhood, cultural authenticity, and morality—and juxtaposes them with the claims of cultural authenticity and legitimacy made by gay and lesbi Indonesians. Representations of “traditional” homoeroticisms in the novelMairilby Syarifuddin bring these lines of arguments together and synthesise a discursive space where cultural and national authenticities are “queered.” It is my contention that religious and traditional elements that foster same-sex practices offer a key to queer legitimacy for Indonesian sexual minorities.
Jones, Carla. 2010. “Better Women: The Cultural Politics of Gendered Expertise in Indonesia.” American Anthropology 112 (June): 270-282.
Through analysis of an increasingly popular phenomenon of courses training feminine comportment in Indonesia, I argue in this article that the appeal and work of femininity can be analyzed as a form of what Timothy Mitchell has called the “rule of experts.” Building on Mitchell, I suggest that expertise is central to authoritarian projects and postauthoritarian aftermath and is especially evident in zones that masquerade as least public and yet most self-evident. As a result expertise gains its value from the conditions it claims to alleviate. Placing gender at the center of the analytical frame reveals these effects more clearly and can potentially expose the ideological contradictions that ground their allure.
Offord, Baden. “Queer Activist Intersections in Southeast Asia: Human Rights and Cultural Studies.” Asian Studies Review 37, no. 3 (September 2013): 335-349.
The practice of human rights elicits a range of theoretical positions and problems in relation to advocacy across Southeast Asia. This raises questions about the universal nature of human rights, the problem of cultural imperialism and the dynamic of the local and the global. These questions become heightened when connected to queer or LGBT issues. This paper focuses on the intersections of queer scholarship, activism and human rights in relation to LGBT asylum seekers from Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia in order to explore the potentialities, possibilities and difficult challenges queer activists and scholars face in translating human rights principles, values and actions across and between modes of activist communication. A special purpose of the paper is to explore how the discipline of cultural studies and its attention to everyday lives, identity, self-reflexivity and socio-cultural context offers a scholarship that is specifically attuned to the problematics and complexity of human rights and queer activism and their application in researching these Southeast Asian contexts.
Spiller, Henry. 2012. “How Not to Act like a Woman: Gender Ideology and Humor in West Java, Indonesia.” Asian Theatre Journal 29 (Spring): 31-53.
In West Java, Indonesia, hosts of hajat (life-cycle event celebrations) hire performing arts troupes to provide entertainment. In addition to typical music and dance acts, one troupe—the Rawit Group—presents a comedy skit called lawakan. This article analyzes one such skit from 1999—just after the fall of President Soeharto’s New Order government. The centerpiece of the skit is a parody of two performing traditions that feature professional female entertainers: pop Sunda (diatonic pop songs in Sundanese language) and wayang golek (rod puppet theatre with accompaniment that includes virtuosic female singing). In both traditions, female performers routinely exaggerate their feminine attributes. This female entertainer, however, is portrayed by a man in comically unconvincing drag. Hilarity ensues as the other comedians urge the drag performer to conform to New Order feminine ideals of appearance and behavior, but s/he confounds them at every turn. In the process, the three men reinforce traditional Sundanese understandings of how the illusion of femininity is actively created through visual means (e.g., artifices of dress) and sonic elements (e.g., singing and speaking styles), and conventions of movement. In the process, they challenge New Order gender policies and point the way toward a return to tried and true Sundanese ideologies of gender.
Wieringa, Saskia E. 2000. “Communism and Women’s Same-Sex Practises in Post-Suharto Indonesia.” Culture, Health & Sexuality 2 (October-December): 441-457.
The Indonesian Communist Organization Gerwani was banned in 1966. It had been associated with sexual perversions during the 1 October 1965 putsch in which senior figures within the Indonesian army were killed. These accusations helped fuel the massacre of over a million people and brought General Suharto to power. Yet in many ways Gerwani’s ideology was puritanical and geared towards strengthening the monogamous family unit. It breached traditional gender ideology only in its insistence that women should be political actors and militant mothers. More recently, the organization has been accused of ‘promoting lesbianism’, when it in fact has never discussed the issue. This paper analyses Gerwani’s ideology to explore the link between political activism and sexuality. The women’s organization can be regarded as one of the forces of ‘modernity’ which stimulated homophobia. It is suggested that Gerwani’s political activism was considered such a breach of traditional gender ideologies that it triggered a fear of social disorder in which women would be free from male heterosexual control – either as loose, perverted women were seen as liable to castrate generals, or as lesbians.
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