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September 18 , 2007

Gender Diversity in Indonesia

Sexuality, Islam and Queer Selves


Indonesia provides particularly interesting examples of gender diversity. Same-sex relations, transvestism and cross-gender behaviour have long been noted amongst a wide range of Indonesian peoples. This book explores the nature of gender diversity in Indonesia, and with the world’s largest Muslim population, it examines Islam in this context. Based on extensive ethnographic research, it discusses in particular calalai – female-born individuals who identify as neither woman nor man; calabai – male-born individuals who also identify as neither man nor woman; and bissu – an order of shamans who embody female and male elements. The book examines the lives and roles of these variously gendered subjectivities in everyday life, including in low-status and high-status ritual such as wedding ceremonies, fashion parades, cultural festivals, Islamic recitations and shamanistic rituals. The book analyses the place of such subjectivities in relation to theories of gender, gender diversity and sexuality.

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