1st Edition

Gender Pluralism Southeast Asia Since Early Modern Times

By Michael G. Peletz Copyright 2009
    352 Pages
    by Routledge

    362 Pages
    by Routledge

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    Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2009!

    This book examines three big ideas: difference, legitimacy, and pluralism. Of chief concern is how people construe and deal with variation among fellow human beings. Why under certain circumstances do people embrace even sanctify differences, or at least begrudgingly tolerate them, and why in other contexts are people less receptive to difference, sometimes overtly hostile to it and bent on its eradication? What are the cultural and political conditions conducive to the positive valorization and acceptance of difference? And, conversely, what conditions undermine or erode such positive views and acceptance? This book examines pluralism in gendered fields and domains in Southeast Asia since the early modern era, which historians and anthropologists of the region commonly define as the period extending roughly from the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries.

    Table of Contents

    Acknowledgments (3)

    Note on Spelling, Transliteration, and Names (5)


    Chapter 1 -- Introduction (6)

    Chapter 2 -- Gender Pluralism and Transgender Practices in Early Modern Times (38)

    Some Gendered Themes in the Political Cultures of Pre- and Early Modern States

    Transgender Practices and Gender Pluralism


    Ngaju Dayak







    Chapter 3 -- Temporary Marriage, Connubial Commerce, and Colonial Body Politics (146)

    Temporary Marriage

    From Temporary Wives to Concubines and Prostitutes

    Colonial Body Politics and the Constriction of Pluralism

    Concubinage, Prostitution, and "Sworn Sisterhood"

    Desires That Dare Not Speak Their Names


    Chapter 4 --Transgender Practices, Same-Sex Relations, and Gender Pluralism Since the 1960s (216)

    Some Insular Southeast Asian Cases


    Ngaju Dayak


    The Case of Burma

    Deeper into the Labyrinth(s)

    Women and Femininity at the Turn of the 21st Century



    Chapter 5 -- Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics at the Turn of the 21st Century (311)

    Transgendered Ritualists and Pondan

    "Asian Values" and New Types of Criminality

    Narratives of "Asian Values" and the Rise of Social Intolerance

    New Types of Criminality: Azizah, Anwar, and Beyond

    The Pink Triangle, the Urban/Sexual Underground, and the Struggle

    for Sexual Equality

    Background and Context

    The Pink Triangle and the Urban/Sexual Communities It Serves

    Official Discourses on Communities in the Urban/Sexual Underground

    The Struggle for Sexual Equality

    Engaging "Tolerance", Open Secrets, and Governmentality


    Epilogue: Asylum, Diaspora, Pluralism (450)


    Bibliography (483)

    Index (534)


    Michael G. Peletz is Professor of Anthropology at Emory University. His specialties include social theory, gender, sexuality, Islam, and modernity, particularly in Southeast Asia. He is the author of Islamic Modern: Religious Courts and Cultural Politics in Malaysia (Princeton, 2002), Reason and Passion: Representations of Gender in a Malay Society (California, 1996), A Share of the Harvest: Kinship, Property, and Social History among the Malays of Rembau (California, 1988). He is also the co-editor with Aihwa Ong, of Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia (California, 1995).

    In this inspired and creative analysis, Peletz gives special attention to transgendered people and groups in what is easily the broadest yet thickest discussion of gender in Southeast Asia to date. This superbly written, thoughtful book is indispensable for all audiences and educational purposes. —Ferzacca, University of Lethbridge, CHOICE, December 2009

    Breathtaking in its breadth and intellectual versatility, Gender Pluralism is one of the finest works on Southeast Asia in a generation. Its insights into the sources of pluralism and tolerance and its careful linkage of historical analysis to politics and ethnography also make the book nothing less than a landmark achievement in contemporary studies of gender, sexuality, and modernity. —Robert W Hefner, Boston University, American Anthropologist