Speaker: Dr. Shanthi Thambiah
Title: “Gender in Southeast Asia: Fluid, Contested and Negotiable”
Commentator: Tatsuro Fujikura (ASAFAS, Kyoto University)
Moderator: Chika Obiya (CSEAS)
This presentation examines the bilateral organization of kin in Southeast Asia and women’s active role in social and economic activities in all its complexity in a diverse and changing Southeast Asia. It is the bilateral kinship system that contributes to the consideration of Southeast Asia as a region that has certain shared practices and a region with a wide cultural span, diversity and hybridity. A Southeast Asian “cultural matrix” that is fluid and dynamic can be related to the bilateral social organization system that allows for flexibility in its gender relations and inclusiveness in its group formation contributing to the flourishing of diversity and hybridity. Kinship in Southeast Asia is associated with a lack of structure and a lack of permanence and therefore the “cultural matrix” of the region emerging from this context is more of shared resemblances rather than fixed or normative in nature. Therefore, gender in this region can be seen to be constructed and constituted from such a context and this is an attribute of the “cultural matrix” of Southeast Asia. This is not to make a claim for a generalized and essential bilateral principle and with it gender equality in the region but that this social organization system that may manifest in myriad forms in the local context contributes to the outcome on how gender is seen in the region as fluid, contested and negotiable. Such diversity of behavior, responses and outcomes were and are being overwritten by homogenizing colonial, state, nationalist and global capitalist ideologies and discourses.
This seminar is organized in collaboration with the Fieldworker Family Care Support Group, ASAFAS, Kyoto University, and CSEAS/CIRAS joint usage/research project “Gender, Family, and Modernity in
Post-Socialist Islamic Space: Seeking for Links with Middle East Islamic Area Studies.”
Associate Professor of Gender Studies at the Faculty of Arts and SocialSciences, University of Malaya. She studied at the University of Malaya for her bachelor’s degree, M.Phil from the University of Cambridge and her PhDin Social Anthropology is from the University of Hull. She has publishedwidely on gender, family and work and changing gender relations in Malaysia.