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From Hinduism to Islam: Performing Gender and Religion in Indonesia - Sponsored by the Indonesia and Timor Leste Studies Committee (ITLSC)

Fri, April 1, 5:15 to 7:15pm, Washington State Convention Center, Floor: 6th Floor, Room 619

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Indonesian performing arts are often deeply rooted in religious contexts and as such are powerful sites of identity construction, negotiation, and resistance. These contexts also provide deep insight into understandings of women’s agency as well as shifts in senses of femininity and masculinity. This panel explores the intersection of performing arts, ritual, religious beliefs and practices, gender construction, and gender reformulation in three different cultural contexts in Indonesia. The first paper examines how a sacred female masked dance in Bali portrays and embodies a particular Balinese Hindu feminine power that opposes the national image of the ideal woman as supporter of husband and children. The second paper analyzes the shift in religious identity consciousness enacted by female singers in West Java by inserting a new song as an Islamic expression into a Sundanese Hindu performance context. The third paper explores ways in which musicians and dancers in Malang, East Java challenge both dominant senses of Islam and of gender through cross-gender performance. Following these presentations, a discussant will offer further commentary on common themes that link the three papers, taking a wider view to understand the significance of these works in a broader context of increasing Islamization and shifting gender identities in Indonesia. We aim to spark dialogue among audience members about the cultural and ideological power of the performing arts, individual agency, identity construction and resistance in Indonesia, as well as any other related topics that arise.

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