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This impressive array of essays considers the contingent and shifting meanings of gender and the body in contemporary Southeast Asia. By analyzing femininity and masculinity as fluid processes rather than social or biological givens, the authors provide new ways of understanding how gender intersects with local, national, and transnational forms of knowledge and power.
Contributors cut across disciplinary boundaries and draw on fresh fieldwork and textual analysis, including newspaper accounts, radio reports, and feminist writing. Their subjects range widely: the writings of feminist Filipinas; Thai stories of widow ghosts; eye-witness accounts of a beheading; narratives of bewitching genitals, recalcitrant husbands, and market women as femmes fatales. Geographically, the essays cover Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The essays bring to this region the theoretical insights of gender theory, political economy, and cultural studies.
Gender and other forms of inequality and difference emerge as changing systems of symbols and meanings. Bodies are explored as sites of political, economic, and cultural transformation. The issues raised in these pages make important connections between behavior, bodies, domination, and resistance in this dynamic and vibrant region.
Suzanne A. Brenner
Jane A. Margold
Mary Beth Mills
Michael G. Peletz
Aihwa Ong is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley, and author of Spirits of Resistance and Capitalist Discipline (1987). Michael G. Peletz is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Colgate University and author of A Share of the Harvest (California, 1988).
"This collection presents new ethnographic research, framed in terms of new theoretical developments, and contains fine scholarship and lively writing."—Janet Hoskins, University of Southern California
"This is a wonderful collection of essays. At one level they tell us about the transformation and often painful fragmentation of gendered selves in post-colonial states and a speeded-up transnational world. At another level they display the continuing power of ethnography to surprise and move us."—Sherry Ortner, University of California, Berkeley