By Aihwa Ong, Michæl G Peletz

This extraordinary array of essays considers the contingent and transferring meanings of gender and the physique in modern Southeast Asia. via reading femininity and masculinity as fluid tactics instead of social or organic givens, the authors offer new methods of figuring out how gender intersects with neighborhood, nationwide, and transnational different types of wisdom and power.

Contributors lower throughout disciplinary obstacles and draw on clean fieldwork and textual research, together with newspaper debts, radio experiences, and feminist writing. Their matters variety greatly: the writings of feminist Filipinas; Thai tales of widow ghosts; eye-witness money owed of a beheading; narratives of bewitching genitals, recalcitrant husbands, and industry ladies as femmes fatales. Geographically, the essays conceal Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The essays carry to this sector the theoretical insights of gender conception, political financial system, and cultural studies.

Gender and different kinds of inequality and distinction end up altering platforms of symbols and meanings. our bodies are explored as websites of political, monetary, and cultural transformation. the problems raised in those pages make vital connections among habit, our bodies, domination, and resistance during this dynamic and colourful region.

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Extra info for Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia

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While Javanese men are increasingly involved in business, especially in the more modern sectors of the economy, and although wealth is, in practice, a very important source of status in Indonesian society, there remains a certain taint to business matters and to the handling of money, and a continued association of the less savory aspects of monetary and mercantile pursuits with women and ethnic minorities, all of which indicate that priyayi ideologies have not lost their hold upon the Javanese population.

Ideas about spiritual potency do seem to be widespread in Java. It is clear, however, that these ideas have been most highly elaborated and systematically perpetuated among the ranks of the traditional Javanese aristocratic-cum-bureaucratic elite, the priyayi (see C. Geertz 1960; J. Errington 1984, 1988; Sutherland 1979). The concept of spiritual potency and the practices associated with it reinforce the ethical codes, behavioral norms, and linguistic styles that uphold priyayi claims to high status and cultural superiority.

Many people told me that when a child is sick, or is taking exams in school, it is the child's mother, not the father, who fasts, gets up to pray in the middle of the night, and deprives herself of sleep (all considered forms of asceticism) in order to help her child. I repeatedly encountered women who fasted-sometimes twice a week-or engaged in other ascetic practices on a regular basis, primarily, they said, for the benefit of their children and future descendants. In fact, several women told me point-blank that many men, in contrast to women, do not have the strength of will to carry out ascetic practices, contradicting the ethnographic commonplace that asceticism is predominantly a male undertaking injava.

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