Intersections: Trying Not to Lose Face: Indonesian Women Dancers in Perth, Western Australia

Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
Issue 27, November 2011

    Trying Not to Lose Face:
    Indonesian Women Dancers in Perth, Western Australia

    Monika Winarnita

    1. In contemporary Australia, 'ethnic traditional' dancers and their performance has become the most visible representation of migrant communities. Most research on dance and migrant groups in Australia has focused on discourses that shape the type of dances (classic, folk or hybrid) that are valued as a cultural representation of the community.[1] In this paper, I will bring gender issues to the forefront in the discussion on discourses that affect the dancers and their performance.[2] This work focuses on Indonesian migrant women in Perth, Western Australia, with whom I danced and performed. These dancers try to perform ethnic folk dance or hybrid versions using either masculine ‘strong men' characters or feminine ‘sexy' characters in their attempt to be accepted by members of the Indonesian community and specifically a consulate women's group which dispenses aesthetic judgment. The performances lead to feelings of either embarrassment or empowerment. In order to demonstrate these gender issues I will use stories of a Multicultural Harmony concert and an Indonesian Bazaar community event which featured a dance group that split into two, becoming antagonistic in their fight for recognition. This paper will thus contribute to research on migrant dances as expressions of community identity, emphasising gender performance.
    2. There are three interrelated gender discourses which affect the Indonesian migrant women dancers and their performance. The first is an Indonesian state gender discourse of ibuism or mother/wife. This gender discourse has a normative concept of femaleness called kodrat or an essential nature of being a mother, as well as assigning to women the associated primary role as wives.[3] This discourse was enshrined in the state's panca darma wanita or the official paradigm of women's primary roles during the Suharto New Order era pre-1998 and is still enacted by state-sanctioned women's group like the Perth consulate-sponsored group called Dharma Wanita.[4] Some of the activities of the Dharma Wanita group reinforce their roles in the domestic sphere and at the same time become symbolic guardians of cultural tradition[5]; for example traditional cooking and traditional outfit competition, and being part of a traditional instrument orchestra—as is the case in Perth. Being seen as an honoured mother/wife partaking in cultural activities like the Dharma Wanita women, would elevate a dancer's status from her stigmatised position as a negatively-perceived lascivious 'bar girl' who gained a marriage migration visa.
    3. The other two interrelated gender discourses, the 'bar girl' discourse and the 'mail order bride' discourse, are associated with the stereotypes of Indonesian women marrying expatriate Australian men. The Australian partner would have either been working in the Jakarta branch of an Australian mining company or in other mining sites around Indonesia. During the Western Australian economic boom of 2006–2008, miners earned quite a high salary, and their Indonesian partners, who did not have an Indonesian upper class background, could be classified as nouveau riche. The stigma in the Indonesian community of Perth is that these women must have met their partners under circumstances that are considered 'deviant,' such as in a bar or nightclub situation. Thus, the stigma is also related to the stereotype that invokes an image of 'Western' men leading an expatriate's morally lax lifestyle in Indonesia and seeking Indonesian women who were morally lax bar girls.[6]
    4. The 'mail order bride' discourse was perpetuated in the 1980s and 1990s and specifically applied to Asian women from the Philippines who came to Australia under spousal visas. This appellation also affects Indonesian women in similar circumstances.[7] The marriages are considered 'deviant' because the women are seen as 'using' the men for visa purposes in order to have a better first world lifestyle. The most well-known case in Perth is that of Filipina, Rose Hancock, who, though not a mail order bride was of low status having been a house cleaner for the Western Australian mining magnate Lang Hancock before becoming his wife. The negative connotation of a woman in such a marriage is that of a gold digger, opportunistic, younger, lower status and lascivious Asian woman.[8] Within the Perth Indonesian community, the Asian woman 'mail order bride' stereotype feeds on the Indonesian 'bar girl' stereotype which results in a hyper-sensitivity in the community.
    5. How the dancers negotiated and responded to these gender discourses was by changing their style and the masculine or feminine characteristics to suit what they perceived to be the aesthetic taste of the Indonesian community; with a specific desired objective of elevating their status from a negatively-perceived morally-lax derided amateur housewives' dance group.[9] Furthermore, the dancers believed that by continuing to perform as Indonesian dancers in Perth they would be respectfully regarded as discussed previously in the same manner as the Dharma Wanita women who symbolised a valued representation of Indonesian womanhood with cultural performances as one of their main activities.[10]
    6. However, members of the community rejected some of the Indonesian migrant women's dance group's performances as not being 'Indonesian' enough. These performances were seen as inauthentic, created, non-traditional dancing, danced by amateurs with low skills and low status, often with unacceptable, lascivious dance movements and revealing costumes. The embarrassment the dancers felt is described as a sense of shame or 'losing face' (malu). This emotional and embodied feeling of shame is, I argue, a result of an internalised structuring gender discourse.
    7. The dancers however, also felt empowered by their newfound bodily skills and performance status; the majority never having previously danced traditional dances in Indonesia. Furthermore, they gained a new identity as Indonesians in Australia through an embodied knowledge and body movement language which communicated their version of Indonesian culture. This sense of empowerment made them continue to dance their created version of Indonesian dance using their aesthetic styles.
    8. For migrants like the Indonesian women dancers, who had to adapt to a new environment, society and culture in Perth, there was a need to orient back to a familiar culture and structure provided by the Dharma Wanita and the Indonesian community. However, by being in a new place a new identity was created. By performing on stage the dancers change cultural representations of 'Indonesia' in Perth, to include not only the valued classical or folk dances but also their hybrid recreated dances.

      The Indonesian Bazaar
    9. The change room in the rented Perth, Western Australia community hall is full of dancers, but is unusually quiet. After three months of bickering, two rival dance groups of Indonesian women are put together in the same room and no one is speaking. The atmosphere is tense, and avoiding eye contact, the other dancers and I concentrate on getting ready for our respective Indonesian dance performances. Unfortunately one group is scheduled to perform immediately after the other on the second morning of an annual two day Indonesian Bazaar. I am one of the dancers of the group called Srikandi (pseudonym) who welcome me to practice, be involved in their lives and perform with them during my fieldwork in 2007, and subsequent return trips. We are dancing a folk dance [tarian rakyat] called Reog Rampagan.[11] In this Perth version of the folk dance, there are knights on horses, a village chief and a village girl all chasing away a tiger character that is eating the village livestock. As one of the three knights, I am busy trying to put on a masculine knight on a horse [ksatria] costume. The other dance group called Dewi (pseudonym) will be putting on a popular sexy 'dangdut'[12] dance. Dangdut is a hybrid genre of Indonesian music that includes the stage performance of a specific gyrating dance by singers and dance backers as well as an interactive type of dance involving the audience. Performing before us, they are almost ready with their sparkling combination of Belly dancing and Bollywood costumes. Their version of 'Dangdut' is danced to the beat of an Indonesian translated popular song from the Indian movie Kutch Kutch Hota Hai.[13]

      Figure 1. Reog Rampagan folk dance. Source. Photographer, Felisia Lai, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 3 June 2007. Figure 2. Dangdut popular hybrid dance. Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 3 June 2007.

    10. This bazaar is an Indonesian community event with an Indonesian audience. It is sponsored by the Indonesian Consulate in Perth and Garuda Airlines. The purpose is to bring together the 10,000-strong Perth Indonesian community members as audience and participants, sellers and buyers—like an Indonesian 'pasar' or the English 'bazaar'. There are 20 stalls arranged in a U shape facing the stage with the audience sitting in the middle and the VIPs at the front. The most prominent stall position, covering most of the middle part of the U arrangement with the best view of the stage, is the Consulate-sponsored Indonesian Women's Association (Dharma Wanita) selling traditional outfits and batik shirts. Members of the consulate staff and Dharma Wanita also perform in a Javanese Gamelan xylophone traditional instrument orchestra.[14] Other performances by consulate staff, their children or the children of Dharma Wanita members include the Acehnese Saman[15] harmonious dance which follows the beat of an Islamic chant, and the Sulawesi female welcome dance Patenung. Dharma Wanita also have their own ensemble of a traditional rattled bamboo instrument popular in Java called angklung.[16]

      Figure 3. Javanese Gamelan xylophone orchestra, author a member pictured front right. Source. Photographer, Greg Acciaioli, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 2 June 2007. Figure 4. Sulawesi Patenung female welcome dance. Source. Photographer, Greg Acciaioli, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 2 June 2007.

    11. Many of these performances are danced or choreographed by dancers of the ethnicity appropriate to each dance; Javanese people should perform Javanese dances. Professionals trained since childhood are more valued and seen as 'authentic' in their execution of Indonesian traditional regional performances. Philip Yampolsky, in a critical study of the cultural policy of the Indonesian government from the Sukarno era to the New Order (1945–1995), outlined the definition of 'authentic' Indonesian culture as 'old and authentic' as well as 'peaks of culture' which thus categorised 'not authentic' as 'new' or 'hybrid'.[17] Combinations of selected regional 'ethnic' art became the basis for the development of the entire national culture, as stated in the Indonesian New Order 1974 cultural policy.[18] The way that the consulate organised the performance through the order of importance shows its valuing of classical courtly or folk dances as 'ethnic' and 'peaks of culture' art as 'authentic' as well as the way the consulate staff look down on new 'hybrid' dances performed by amateur groups like Srikandi and Dewi.
    12. Literature on migrant cultural performances in Australia similarly describes how migrant groups chose particular classic or folk dances as 'authentic' representation of their 'ethnic' culture.[19] For the Chinese migrant community in Perth and the Indian Tamil community in Canberra, anthropological ethnography details the way that dancers' negotiate community expectations of a 'classic' style of dance being valued as an 'authentic' representation.[20]
    13. Ethnographies of the Philippine migrant community and the Chilean community in Perth on the other hand, describe folk dancing as the valued 'ethnic' representation.[21] Arguably this valuation on the type of representation reflects the migrant condition where the community would like to keep alive an identity that was frozen when they left their original country, or what Kalpana Ram analysed in the Indian Tamil community as a 'phantom limb' syndrome.[22] A phantom limb is a sensation of a limb that has been severed. Ram argues that some migrants often have such a traumatic experience in their move to a new country, that it is like being 'severed' from the culture that they know.[23] Comparably, the Indonesian migrant community can be seen to be placing value on the type of cultural representation promoted during their migration; some came pre-1998 during the New Order with its cultural policy of 'authentic' representation as 'ethnic' and a 'peak of culture'.
    14. However, analysis of the projection of community identity must be framed within the interrelated issues of class, status position and gender discourses that the body of literature on migration has also discussed.[24] Specifically regarding class and status position, for the Chilean migrant,[25] the working class position was ascribed with authority over 'authentic' ethnic folk performance. For the Indonesian migrant community those whose authority is sought and valued with cultural and social capital are members of the elite, 'old money' and those who have a bureaucratic position in the Consulate, or their partners and members in the Dharma Wanita women's group. While a gender-structuring discourse on how female dancers' should present their body through valued stylistic performance for the community have also been addressed in research on Chinese [26] and Tamil Indians.[27] These three issues (class, status and gender) are illustrated in my Perth ethnography; in particular how the marriage migrant's low class and status position together with the group's amateur, 'gyrating' created dance was an embarrassment to the Indonesian community audience, who judged the performance as an inauthentic representation.
    15. Back in the change room at the Indonesian Bazaar, the members of the Srikandi dance group had been feeling nervous for days about performing again in front of the Indonesian community. Our topic of conversation centered on the last big dance performance three months ago. We called the event 'the Harmony Day incident'. The Harmony Day 2007 concert had been held in one of Perth's largest performance venues, the Burswood Casino. Funded partially by the Western Australian State Government, it was organised by the Asian Australian Association. Harmony Day was to be the combined Indonesian migrant women dance group's (Dewi) first appearance at Perth's biggest multicultural event. This was before members of our group split from Dewi to form the rival 'Srikandi'. It was because the Dewi dance group lost face at this concert that the group broke apart to form two dance groups. Each group wished to pursue dance styles and performances that they regarded as more acceptable to the community, and that would give them status. For the Srikandi group this would be the performance of the Reog folk dance rather than the Dangdut popular dance.
    16. On stage at the Harmony Day Concert, the problems related to derision and criticism which had come from an Indonesian audience member, a Balinese professional classical dancer and a member of the Dharma Wanita women's group. This is important to note because this woman was considered an authentic Indonesian cultural performer. She performed particularly for the Balinese ethnic migrant community group in their ritual religious ceremonial events and thus had a lifelong experience of training and performing her own ethnic group's dance. Moreover, she had the cultural capital and status associated with being a professional dancer, with classical dance experience to which most of the Dewi group dancers aspired. This Balinese dancer was sitting at the back row of the performance venue near to where some of the family and friends of the Dewi dancers had purchased seats. She could be clearly overheard. She was scornful of the Dewi group's performance which was titled the Indonesian boat dance. The boat dance is a created dance based on a Javanese campursari or mixed essences soundtrack, a mix of traditional and popular music genres. The music has a narrative depicting fisher folk catching fish and rowing a boat. The dancers wore an East Javanese type of kebaya or tight female costume for those in the female roles and for the male roles they wore a warok or East Javanese strong man or leading man costume. The female characters were derided as performing a lascivious gyrating dance or 'goyang goyang,' while the male characters looked like they were doing a basic aerobic (senam) moves, said the Balinese dancer. Moreover, she criticised the dancers for being out of step with the live gamelan orchestra. Balinese classical dancers dance to the Balinese gamelan orchestra that is considered to play at a faster and more dramatic pace than the Javanese gamelan orchestra, which performed at this event. On stage, one of the male fisher folk dancers even moved to the right when all the other dancers were moving to the left. Basically, the Balinese dancer audience member felt it was an amateur performance. 'Malu maluin' (putting themselves and others to shame) was her bitter reflection on the Indonesian contribution to Perth's major multicultural event of the year.
    17. Embarrassment was also related to problems occurring backstage before the performance. The Dewi dance group had arrived about four hours early as requested. They were accompanied by the consulate-sponsored Javanese gamelan traditional xylophone orchestra. When they arrived, the stage manager shouted at the Indonesian group who were shocked at this treatment. She said that the gamelan orchestra could not be used on stage or even let in to the venue because the organisers had not been informed. Furthermore, there was no time for setting up such a heavy and complex orchestra, consisting of ten wood and brass instruments, especially within the seven minutes allocated to the group for setting up on stage, performing, and clearing off stage. Twenty-four performances were scheduled for the four hours duration of the event.
    18. In response to the stage manager, members of the Dewi group started getting upset amongst themselves — blaming each other for who was responsible for the organisational mess. Ratna and Erna (pseudonyms, the choreographer of the boat dance performed at this Harmony Day concert and one of the dancers) pointed their fingers at the dance teacher/organiser Shinta for the mess. Shinta, together with her Australian husband David (pseudonyms), had sought out and organised their performance engagements. Ratna said in front of everyone that it was therefore Shinta's responsibility to have organised it properly. Being blamed publicly, Shinta lost face in front of the stage manager, dancers and gamelan performers. Shinta in turn blamed Erna and Ratna for hiring the gamelan orchestra in the first place, creating the problem and causing the Dewi group financial loss. The Asian Australian Association had paid them an amount for the performance which was less than the amount asked by the gamelan group; the ten players required fifty dollars 'pocket' money each, thus leaving no money for the dancers themselves—an important consideration as will be explained.
    19. The gamelan did end up playing to accompany the boat dance. This outcome was due to David, Shinta's husband's problem-solving suggestion of organising and rehearsing the gamelan orchestra's set up several times in the four hour lead-up to the performance. The gamelan orchestra was finally able to be set up and removed from the stage within three minutes, which convinced the stage manager to let the Dewi group make use of the accompanying orchestra. However the acoustics of the stage was such that the gamelan sound was unbalanced and muted. Furthermore, the Dewi dancers who were used to dancing to recorded music were not able to synchronise properly with the beat of the gamelan rhythms. The overall effect, as commented in a sneering manner by the Balinese dancer in the audience, was an unprofessional and embarrassing performance.
    20. For the dancers, the worst part of losing face was a feeling that the Indonesian consulate staff would view the Dewi group as 'unprofessional' and an amateur group. Dadang (pseudonym), a staff member from the consulate's Cultural and Educational Section or Depdikbud who had organised the gamelan orchestra, was angry with the dance group as a whole for putting him in this position. When I talked to him at the gamelan practise the next day, he expressed his embarrassment. He felt the Dewi group should have liaised properly with the organiser in order to avoid this problem. Being shouted at, he felt that he had personally lost face.

      Figure 5. The Indonesian boat dancers entering on the left and the gamelan orchestra already on stage. Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Burswood Theatre Perth Western Australia, 18 March 2007. Figure 6. The flag parade at the end of the Harmony Day performance. Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Burswood Theatre Perth Western Australia, 18 March 2007.

    21. Dadang and his department lost face, the Dewi dancers lost face and there was a danger that the Consul General, his wife and consulate staff sitting on the front row in the VIP section would lose face. At the concert they were representing the Indonesian nation amongst the other nations' consular representatives as well as Western Australian state dignitaries. Indeed, many of the dancers would tell their family and friends in Indonesia that they were performing on an 'international stage.' Consequently, the Consul General's and the Indonesian nation's 'face' were at stake on the international stage that celebrated Australian 'Harmony Day'. The Consul General was assumed to be paying close attention to the Indonesian cultural representation; most importantly to the consulate-sponsored accompanying gamelan orchestra.
    22. The sense of shame in losing face was thus experienced at many levels, not only in front of the organiser of the Australian Harmony Day festival but also more acutely experienced amongst and in front of other Indonesians—as 'Indonesian' performers, Indonesian state representatives from the consulate and audience members from the Indonesian community. Although it was a performance in an Australian setting to celebrate a national day for the recognition of Australia's multicultural national identity, the focus was on the reaction within the Indonesian community in Perth and on losing face or Malu.
    23. Malu is here argued as a culturally significant concept for the shame and embarrassment felt by the dancers.[28] Malu is an important term in the emotional lexicon of a Malay language which has been taken into the Indonesian language. It also refers to a moral effect; the shaming or embarrassing of an individual lowers the status of that individual within a social order. Furthermore, Malu is seen as a useful brake for inappropriate expressions of 'passion.'[29] The passions are accepted as an important cultural vehicle with a driving force, for example, eating and procreating. The predominant Islamic theology is accepting that there is a role for passions which is inherent in being human.[30]
    24. In the context of the Harmony Day performance, Malu, Malu maluin (plural), or shaming and losing face becomes a fear of negative outcomes from performance and from performing or displaying Indonesian-ness. In general, malu was cast on the women of lower status who danced in the Dewi group. In the Perth context, the sexiness and passion in the gyrating action of the boat dance was also seen as a violation of malu.
    25. An ethnographic work by Johan Lindquist on Indonesian female migrants in Batam [31] has identified malu as a key emotional trope that is relevant to the situation faced by the Indonesian dance group's Harmony Day performance. First, it is relevant because Lindquist argues that in migration malu should be understood in relation to representations connected to the originating nation. The Indonesian performers were assuming a national identity and thus took on the malu aspect of a whole community's national identity, as well as representations of it in the transnational context of Perth. However, observed through these examples there was not only the singular emotion of malu but also the plural malu maluin. There were three levels of shame: shame experienced as a collective dance group—shame experienced on behalf of the entire Indonesian community in Perth, and shame experienced as representatives of a whole nation. It was not only their identity and migrant status which heightened the cultural aspect of malu and malu maluin. Rather it was also their identity in performance and representation through tropes of cultural activity; in other words, judgments were made on categories of 'authentic' Indonesian dance.
    26. Second, Lindquist's argument is relevant because to him malu is an important starting point for thinking about the motivations and actions of Indonesian migrants in negotiating their hopes and frustrations. There is the hope of gaining a new identity as a performer or dancer in a new place (country) of migration in order to overcome the malu of their background in their homeland of Indonesia, as well as to compensate for their lower status as marriage migrants. There is the hope that in the new Perth environment they will overcome their personal malus resulting from their previous class status, and, through their performance, will achieve higher class status and cultural capital within a higher-class Indonesian context. There is frustration that they were shamed 'malu' for not achieving a professional level of performance and because they were regarded as amateur performers. There is frustration that they were shamed by the rejection of their attempt(s) to gain status through membership of this higher class because they were seen as amateur performers.
    27. Third, Lindquist's argument is relevant because there is a gendered reaction to malu in the context of migration which concerns sexuality and a subordinate position in society. What was unique about the dance group was that the Indonesian women members were (or once had been) in intimate relationships with 'white'[32] Australian male partners through marriage, de-facto, engaged or dating relationships. In the Perth Indonesian community however, their status as marriage migrants carried stigma—negative connotations and a personal sense of shame or malu. Being mistakenly identified as a bar girl who had begun a relationship with an Australian miner or mining company worker in Indonesia was the feared shame. Moreover, having a 'bar girl' image, together with the Australian stereotype of the 'mail order bride' deviant marriage of an Asian woman and 'white' Australian man, meant a further layer of embarrassment to negotiate in the Indonesian woman's status as a migrant.
    28. Last, Lindquist's final argument is relevant because he sees the women migrants as having agency in which malu becomes a reflexive management of appearances in the face of dramatic economic and social change. Thus, the type of performance, the level of professionalism as a 'career' dancer or artist, and having cultural, hence social, capital through approved 'authentic' representations of Indonesian cultural activity, are all important in negotiating personal and collective feelings of malu or shame for the Indonesian dancers.
    29. The dancers sought recognition that would provide status within the Perth Indonesian community. It is not about the payment received as a dancer, which does not amount to much, but about the recognition of the Dewi members as being 'paid' professional dancers. In other words it is the symbolism of being paid that is important because the payment is an acknowledgement of the status of being a professional dancer, not an amateur. To the majority of the dancers, their weekly rehearsals and weekend performances become their 'career' and identity in the Indonesian Perth community. Related to trying to achieve the status of professional rather than amateur dancer, is their aspiration for upward social movement through which they would gain the recognition of having a higher cultural capital.

      The State as status
    30. In the Perth Indonesian community, there is a hierarchy of Indonesian women's status, which is largely dependent on the status of the partner. If the husband or partner is from a mining background the woman tends to have relatively low status. The elite Indonesian women according to the hierarchy are the Consul General's wife, the Garuda Airline chief's wife, consulate staff wives and the very rich women from Indonesian families based in Indonesia (old money).
    31. In his discussion of status in his Javanese ethnography, Leslie H. Palmier refers to Max Weber's theory of social and economic organisation,[33] where status represents a position with relation to the total society, a collection of rights and duties. However, Palmier argues that there are notions of both individual status and status of groups at play. The desired social circle for Indonesian women thus centers around the consulate-sponsored, formal Indonesian women's association called the Dharma Wanita. In Indonesia the Dharma Wanita is an organisation of the wives of civil servants. The organisation is structured hierarchically according to the role or position of the woman's husband. The head of, for example, the Indonesian embassy's Dharma Wanita, is the wife of the Indonesian Ambassador.
    32. In Canberra, the Australian capital, and location of the Indonesian Embassy, there is a higher proportion of consular families among the Indonesian population. So the majority of the Dharma Wanita members are married to Indonesian Embassy staff. However, in Perth the consulate staff is relatively small in comparison with people of mixed marriage. So, in the Perth context, the majority of the Dharma Wanita members are Indonesian women married to Australian spouses. Nevertheless, the organising committee members with titled positions in Perth's Dharma Wanita are the consulate staff wives or its female staff members.
    33. The main activities of Dharma Wanita women in Perth as detailed in their performance during the Indonesian Bazaar were to play Indonesian traditional instruments of angklung, or bamboo rattled instruments, and their own gamelan xylophone orchestra. Some also danced as part of a larger consulate cultural attaché group. Partaking and performing Indonesian cultural activities in these forms are signs of having cultural capital. A status group is a collection of individuals who are organised to maintain or expand their social privileges by a mechanism of social closure in order to protect existing, certain and cultural monopolies of privilege against outsiders.[34]
    34. Being nouveau riche through marriage to mining industry husbands for example, does not entitle direct membership of Dharma Wanita unless the women are involved in these musical performances and cultural activities as a specific collective formal group. However, such involvement alone is not sufficient. As Weber argued, economic wealth is not the only criterion of social power and influence that creates status.[35] Moreover, status groups are more integrated, communal and politically conscious than economic classes.[36] The Indonesian women in both the Dewi and Srikandi dance groups sought these status associations by being members of Dharma Wanita or by engaging in other means such as dinner invitations to and by Dharma Wanita women and attendance at certain social and private events. As will be seen in the following section, Dharma Wanita, endorsed by the Indonesians, is also the arbiter of gender status within the Indonesian community of Perth.

      Markers of status: valued criteria of performance
    35. When our Reog Rampagan performance finished at the Indonesian Bazaar we were mainly relieved that we got through all the choreographed knights-on-horses movements at the start, as well as the freestyle dancing of chasing the tiger away. Ningish (pseudonym), the new Srikandi group choreographer who also danced the role of village chief, came to the change room a bit later, shouting excitedly that several consulate staff she knew stopped her on the way. This included the gamelan teacher Budi (pseudonym) who congratulated her saying, 'your Reog, you pulled it off, well done' ('Reognya jadi Mbak, bagus sekali'). More important was the approval and congratulations from the Consul-General himself and from the Dharma Wanita group. We were elated when another consulate staff member came to the change room carrying a pile of lunch boxes, saying that Pak (honorific form for mister or father figure) Consul sent them to us as a gift because he enjoyed our performance.

      Figure 7. The Dharma Wanita women Angklung ensemble rehearsal. Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Indonesian Consulate Perth Western Australia, 17 May 2007. Figure 8. The Dharma Wanita women discussing the dance performances at the Indonesian Bazaar. Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 3 June 2007.

    36. News of the approval of Srikandi's traditional dancing also came from the Srikandi dancer, Indri (pseudonym) who gained some measure of status by being a member of the Dharma Wanita group. Indri had gone straight from dancing Reog to playing with the Dharma Wanita bambooAngklung ensemble. When she arrived back in the change room, she said that the Consul-General's wife had liked our folk dance, and the other Dharma Wanita women were critical of the Dewi group's Dangdut because it did not look authentically Indonesia. 'What was that I-Dream-of-Genie outfit?' was a comment.
    37. What was wrong with the dangdut as danced by the Dewi group? The issue is ambivalence over authenticity and sexuality. The dance is of dubious authenticity as an Indonesian dance form performed in Perth, because the music and dance are of hybrid influence. The term dangdut is onomatopoeic based on the drum sounds 'dang' and 'dut,' a blend of Indian, Middle Eastern and indigenous melodies fused with modern musical technology.[37] Aside from authenticity there is also the issue of sexuality.

      Figures 9 and 10. The 'sexy' dangdut performance at the Indonesian Bazaar.
      Source. Photographer, Monika Winarnita, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 3 June 2007.

    38. Dangdut is a highly ambiguous dance form with controversies over its sexual nature. On the one hand, it 'sounds' Arabic, with some well known performers such as Roma Irama[38] seeing himself as representing the 'authentic' root of dangdut in the 1970s— the authentic root being country, lower classes, with Islamic lyrics containing moral messages.[39] On the other hand, there are controversies over the female performers who often wear sexy clothes, gyrate their hips, and sometimes sing sexually-suggestive lyrics. Sandra Bader, in her ethnography of dangdut performance in the kampung or rural context of Indramayu, West Java, argues that women's sexuality has always been a prominent feature in performances, displayed in the singer's dress, movement, and song lyrics—thus its association as musik kampungan and erotic entertainment.[40] The Indramayu singers she described however had to negotiate the double stigma of being either oppressed and exploited victims or seductive and exploitive evil women, or both.[41]
    39. A researcher, on dangdut performance, Harriot Beazley, argues that the New Order gender ideology is still imbued throughout Indonesia's social institutions, and is so deeply ingrained in Indonesian society's psyche that its effect remains and impacts on women performers in contemporary Indonesian society.[42] An example is the controversy over the popular singer Inul Daratista from East Java who was banned from performing in some devout Muslim regions—her performances being publicly criticised and condemned by Muslim leaders as immoral and pornographic.[43] Daratista's trademark dance style ngebor (drilling dance) is gyrating her behind in a drilling manner at a faster and faster pace. Research by Poquinto on Dangdut argues that the exaggerated sexuality of female performers makes the genre more popular, crossing the urban, country, class and age divide.[44] Other researchers on dangdut have argued that the sexual nature of the dance movements was associated by conservative Indonesians with stereotypes of Western women as immoral, promiscuous, indulging in free sex and fostering disrespect between the sexes.[45]
    40. The Dewi dance group also communicated that their reason for dancing dangdut is because it is an MTV, or an Indonesian version of the current Music Television American global franchise, popular performance.[46] Daratista, in particular, is a nationally recognised artist well known to the Indonesian migrant women dancers in Perth who see her as a successful role model. Inul thus had the effect of championing gender issues by empowering other female artists to use their sexual appeal openly and in Indonesia she has the support of human rights and women activists, artists, feminists, and politicians.[47]
    41. The Indonesian migrant women also expressed a sense of empowerment from dancing the gyrating dance that is 'sexy.' For some of the migrant women dancers, Indonesian classical dance can be 'boring' and they added gyrating movements from the belly dance to make the performance more entertaining. Shinta (pseudonym), the teacher and leader of the Srikandi dance group, experiences from her belly-dancing training in Perth, the positive empowering aspects of 'performing sexy'—and is proud of it. In her words it makes the 'dancer and the dance beautiful'.[48] Research on belly dancing's popularity in America by Maira Sunaina also describe the way Western women orientalise the dance's ability to become a source of empowerment through expressions of female sexuality; which is in contrast to some Arab American's negative perceptions of it as a Western exotic hybridisation of an ethnic Egyptian folk dance.[49] The Indonesian migrant dancers also describe dangdut as having a Middle Eastern musical origin akin to belly dancing. Similar to attitudes described by the American belly dancers in Sunaina's research, Shinta believes the inclusion of aspects of this genre will elevate Indonesian dance performance to a professional standard because it will be seen as an international style and will therefore be more appealing in the Australian multicultural performance context. Thus, by using the belly dancing, 'sexy' appeal of its rival group Srikandi's leader Shinta, the Dewi dance group's performance in the Indonesian Bazaar was meant to be a direct challenge. Moreover, the Dewi group believed they would gain the accolade of the Indonesian community by performing a popular MTV Indonesian 'sexy' dangdut gyrating dance like professional female artists such as Inul Daratista.
    42. In comparison, many of the Dharma Wanita women audience members at the Bazaar watching this Dangdut performance were not only in the urban élite class status, but they also consider themselves (or like to portray themselves) as pious Muslims. As described in existing dangdut research, for the urban elite 'dangdut became a discursive practice for defining what is inappropriate and unsuitable in Indonesia.'[50] Piety and status, from my initial observation, seem to go together for some of the Dharma Wanita women who try to project a more conservative image. In their discussions about the performances, the sexy dance moves and outfits of the dangdut performers were regarded as being too revealing and promiscuous. One of the more conservative members of Dharma Wanita expressed the opinion that women who dance in front of men who are not their relatives or Mukhrim are Haram or sinful and shameful because they are displaying their bodies.
    43. My ethnography of dangdut illuminates the attitudes in Perth's Indonesian community that it is not seemly to have a married older woman (ibuor mother/wife), who is honoured with good woman status, to dance and show off her body. The fact that an Indonesian migrant woman in Perth is dancing at all reinforces the stereotype of her as a 'bar girl' not an honoured domesticated mother/wife or ibu. Presumably for these reasons, the consular staff, their wives and members of the Dharma Wanita found the Dewi dance inauthentic and an inappropriate representation of their 'phantom' Indonesia based on New Order censorship and cultural policies.
    44. The only criticism the Srikandi group received was that we, as knights on horses, could have been more authentic had we gone into trance. In other parts of Java such as Central and West Java the Reog Rampagan's characters of knights on horses is also known as Jaran Kepang, Jatilan or Kuda lumping. In all versions there is the expectation that it is a 'horse trance dance' where incredible feats such as eating glass or biting off live chicken's heads are achieved through the animal spirits that enter the dancers.[51] Kevin O. Browne's ethnographies of Reog performances in Central Java[52] described the knights or ksatria, who are female dancers, as being merely a prelude to the real attraction of the male dancers. These male dancers, as argued by Browne, are the only skillful ones who are able to achieve the supernatural feats described in the trance.[53] Max Richter's research on Jatilan performances in Central Java, on the other hand, provides accounts of female performers able to achieve trance like their male counterparts.[54] Moreover, Margaret Kartomi's account of Reog in East Java in the 1970s describes female Jaran performers who were hypnotised.[55]
    45. Ethnographies of Reog in East Java,[56] such as Kartomi's, describe the more complex masculine/feminine gender role-play of the knights on horses. The dancers were known to be effeminate young men or 'gemblak' who would fulfill the domestic role of a wife in the everyday lives of the dance troupe leader known as a 'warok' or strong man.[57] During the New Order government the 'gemblak' were replaced by young girls in order to cleanse the image of Reog of its ambiguous homosexual and pederasty image and to legitimise it as a cultural representation of East Javanese ethnic dance.[58] Central to Reog's performance in Ponorogo, East Java is the mythical tiger Barong character being chased by the knights on horses performed by the warok who displays his prowess by using his teeth to lift the heavy mask.[59] To be able to attain this supernatural feat warok refrain from sexual relations with women; the Warok's spiritual power is believed to be reduced through the release of semen.[60] Resisting passion (nafsu) in an Indonesian performance context meant for the male a display of his spiritual prowess over women; while not resisting passion can lead to experiences of embarrassment or malu. However, as argued by Indonesian feminist scholars such as Felicia Hughes-Freeland and Sandra Bader, disorder is still 'blamed on female sexuality, not on male desire and lack of control'.[61]

      Figures 11 and 12. The Reog 'masculine' knights on horses movement.
      Source. Photographer, Felisia Lai, Embassy Ballroom Perth Western Australia, 3 June 2007.

    46. In the Perth context, the juxtaposition of gender roles is evident in the way the female bodies of the Srikandi Reog Rampagan dancers are covered in male attire rather than the Dangdut sexy female attire. In comparison, Kartomi's ethnography of Reog mentioned above describes the effeminate male knights on horses dancers as often wearing female attire, akin to the legend of Srikandi, a Hindu epic Javanese female warrior.[62] In Perth, the appreciation of our knights on horses' movements as skillful was due to our choreographer Ningsih's (pseudonym) classical dance background and her knowledge of masculine movements. The movements we had to emulate are considered 'masculine,' with wide leg stance and the forceful, macho performance (gagah or jantan) of strong male characters.
    47. The ability of the Indonesian women dancers who were performing male roles that are seen as more complex and that require more effort than do 'feminine' movements or female roles is seen in the context of Reog in Perth as well as in other ethnographies of Indonesian dance.[63] Three issues, gender hierarchy, age and body structure, are highlighted in ethnographies of Indonesian female performers performing male roles. These three issues are important in explaining the success of our Perth Reog performance. The two most skillful Reog dancers Indri (pseudonym) and Ningsih are also older, less attractive, heavier-set but accomplished at performing male dance roles; they see this as pride in their 'art'. In Reog Indri and Ningsih perform warok strong men characters–Indri as the leader of the knights on horses' troupe and Ningsih as the village leader. Both wore typical Warok attire and danced using masculine movements. Barebara Hatley's research on senior women 'grandmothers' like Indri and Ningsih who perform as warok men in Ketoprak,[64] the Central Javanese comedic dance drama, describes the correlation of an aging heavier-set body as more suitably fit for male roles.[65] As they aged, the Ketoprak players did not retire from performance, but continued to show their prowess and skill through performing male roles. In support of Hatley's assessment of the Ketoprak players, older female dancers performing male roles convey alternatives to established social values and invent novel constructions of women's bodies and identities.[66] Similarly, Nathalie Kellar, in her ethnography of the Balinese Arja grass-roots dance drama of an all-woman troupe, describes how gender is less important than body type (either stocky or slight) and characteristic temperamental display (either refined or coarse) in the choice of performing either good or bad male characters, and that there is a similar distinction with the female characters.[67] Like the Ketoprak women, the Arja dancers are seen as skilful artists because they are women who are accomplished in performing male roles. Therefore, in all the ethnographic cases above and as shown in Reog in Perth, it is the skill of the female dancers in being able to emulate a higher-valued male role that makes a performance be seen as successful.
    48. The success of the Reog over the Dangdut reflects what Gillian Bottomley describes as the dynamics of domination and subordination within the migrant community's reconstruction of its identity.[68] In this paper, such dynamics centre on what is considered to be valued and idealised authentic Indonesian dance. Reog, being more valued by certain dominant members of the Indonesian community, is a new stylised folk dance performed by women in skilful male roles, which look more authentically traditional Indonesian than the devalued hybrid gyrating sexy Dangdut. However, the Reog we performed is passed as authentic even though it is also a recreated dance which has been simplified from the way it is danced in Indonesia with its complex gender interplay of masculinity and femininity. The main reason for its acceptance was that in comparison, dangdut with its propensity for what was construed as an overt display of sexuality by the female singers, was not valued as 'authentic.' Furthermore, though dangdut is a current popular trend in Indonesia, the community reacted against it because it is hybrid and not considered to be 'ethnic' folk. This phenomenon has been addressed both in Silvia Torezani's article on the Chilean migrant community's devaluing of Latin American dancing popular in Chile[69] and has been poignantly highlighted in Ram's article as a 'phantom limb' syndrome.[70] The Perth Indonesian Bazaar example shows the tendency of the dominant members of the Indonesian community to dispense value judgments based on their preferred, frozen-in-time 'phantom Indonesian' representation and their censorial attitude towards erotic elements of dance performances that emanated from the New Order government's cultural policy. At the same time, the subordinate position of the Indonesian migrant dancers is evident in their strategising to appeal to particularly the higher status Dharma Wanita group who are symbols of Indonesian female valued identity.

      Videos 1 and 2. Clips of the Reog performance at a Perth Shire Community Festival Source: Filmed by Felisia Lai, Community Hall Western Australia, 12 August 2007. Our grateful thanks to Nicholas Mortimer who helped with the video technology.

    49. The two Indonesian dance groups strategically chose different dance styles and the related gender masculine or feminine performance in reaction to their marginalised positions within the structure of the Indonesian community's aesthetic hierarchy. The Srikandi dance group with its masculine Reog performance was more successful than the Dewi group's overt female sexual display of the Dangdut. In one sense, the Dewi dance group was mistaken in their strategising to dance Dangdut because of its current MTV trend popularity in Indonesia. This was not appreciated by the Indonesians in Perth, more specifically by the Dharma Wanita women. Moreover, by dancing Dangdut with its Middle Eastern hybrid background, the Dewi group failed in their direct challenge to their rival Srikandi. The Srikandi leader, Shinta, is well known for her Middle Eastern belly dancing and she often advocates its positive sexual appeal to lift Indonesian dance into an 'international standard' at Perth multicultural festivals. However, Shinta realised through her previous malu embarrassing experience that in an event specifically organised for the Indonesian migrant community any overt sexual display would be judged negatively as it is related to the stereotypic image of the 'bar girl' that is associated with the marriage migrant dancers.
    50. Taking a larger a view, it would seem from my observations, that in spite of whatever wealth they might achieve, membership in Dharma Wanita, and their cultural performances, these women will never obtain the status they strive for — acceptance into the inner circle of the wives of the 'old'-rich and the consular staff. Other factors that are important in their lack of acceptance relate to the fact that they do not come from the social and cultural class of the élite Dharma Wanita women —shown through their mannerisms, the way they move their bodies, their dialects and their stigmatised status as marriage visa migrants. The dancers are aware of the structuring hierarchy of dance authenticity and aesthetic, and a hierarchy of status position. Yet they also find meaning in their position in the circle of cultural performers as cultural ambassadors, although they are not fully accepted as such nor accepted within the inner circle.
    51. More to the point is that the dancers realised their marginal position and kept dancing. Being paid an honorary amount for dancing, meant they became 'professional' as opposed to 'amateur' dancers. Moreover, their weekly rehearsals and weekend performances became both their 'career' and identity as cultural performers in the Indonesian Perth community. Learning through their embarrassing or 'malu' experience, they changed some of their performances. Srikandi was more successful in reflecting higher valued community tastes in her choreography. They negotiated three interrelated gender discourses of ibuism (housewife/mother, mail order bride and bar girl) while strategising with gendered performances of masculinity and femininity. By continuing to perform, these women ultimately influenced the variety of cultural performances that represent the Indonesian community in Perth Western Australia.


      [1] Gillian Bottomley, From Another Place: Migration and the Politics of Culture, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1992; Michael Pinches 'Bamboo dancers down under: the Filipino-Australian intercultural community in Western Australia,' in A Changing People; Diverse Contributions and the State of Western Australia Perth, ed. Raelene Wilding and Farida Tilbury, Department of the Premier and Cabinet, Office of Multicultural Interest, 2004, pp. 284–302, Silvia Torezani, 'The Latin among Chileans: naming and embodiments of culture among Chileans in Perth, Western Australia,' in JILAS Journal of Iberian and Latin American Studies, vol. 11, no. 1 (July 2005): 95–102; Kalpana Ram, 'Phantom limbs: South Indian dance and immigrant reifications of the female body,' in Journal of Intercultural Studies, vol. 26, nos 1 & 2 (February 2005): 121–37; Sin Wen Lau, 'Bodily offerings of belonging, Chinese Australians in Perth, in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, vol. 8, no. 2 (2007): 137–49.

      [2] I would like to acknowledge the following people for their input into the creation of this paper: Sandra Bader, Nicholas Herriman and Carole Herriman.

      [3] Madelon Djadjaningrat-Niewenhuis, 'Ibuism and Priyayization: Path to Power?' in Indonesian Women in Focus: Past and Present Notions, ed. Elsbeth Locher-Scholten and Anke Niehof, Dordrecht: Foris, 1987, pp. 42 – 51; Julia Suryakusuma, 'The State and sexuality in New Order Indonesia,' in Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, ed. Laurie J. Sears, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996; Laurie J. Sears (ed.), Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia, Durham and London: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 92–119.

      [4] Indra McCormick,Women as Political Actors in Indonesia's New Order, Melbourne: Monash University Press, 2003.

      [5] On women as symbolic guardians of tradition refer to Kalissa Alexeyeff, 'Dancing gender in the Cook Islands: globalisation, regional flows and the boundaries of the nation', in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, 23 (2010), online:, accessed 6 December 2010.

      [6] Alison, Murray, No Money, No Honey: A Study of Street Traders and Prostitutes in Jakarta, Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1991; Max Richter, 'Musical sexualisation and the gendered habitus in Yogyakarta', in Indonesia and the Malay World vol. 36, no 104 (2008): 21–45.

      [7] Kathy Robinson, 'Of Mail-order brides and Boys' Own tales: representation of Asian-Australian marriages,' in Feminist Review, vol. 52 (1996): 53–68; Cleonicki Saroca, 'Filipino women, sexual politics, and the gendered racist discourse of the mail order bride,' in Journal of Interdiscipliary Gender Studies, vol. 2, no. 2 (November 1997): 89–103; Monika Winarnita Doxey, 'From mail order bride to terrorist strategy: how portrayals of Indonesian Australian marriages affect identity and belonging,' in The International Journal of Diversity in Organisations, Communities and Nations, vol. 7, no. 4 (2007): 209 – 16.

      [8] Winarnita Doxey, 'From mail order bride to terrorist strategy.'

      [9] Monika Winarnita 'Dancing the nation in migration Indonesian women in Perth perform a 'uniting' dance,' in Inside Indonesia, vol. 96 (Apr – Jun 2009), online:, acessed 28 June 2011.

      [10] Suryakusuma, 'The State and sexuality in New Order Indonesia,'

      [11] Reog Rampagan is a folk dance from Ponorogo, East Java. For more details see Margaret Kartomi, 'Performance, music and meaning of Reyog Ponorogo,' in Indonesia, vol. 22 (1976): 85–130; and Ian Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo: spirituality, sexuality and power in Javanese performance tradition,' in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific no. 2 (1999), online:, accessed 28 September 2010.

      [12] See Ceres Embate Pioquinto, 'Dangdut at Sekaten: female representations in live performances,' in Review of Indonesian and Malay Affairs, vol. 29, nos 1–2 (1995): 59–89.

      [13] Kutch Kutch Hota Hai, directed by Karan Johar, India: Yosh Raj Films, Dharma Productions, 1998, online:

      [14] A gamelan orchestra is a xylophone-style orchestra including metallophones, gongs and drums which is associated with classical Javanese culture of courts, rajahs, and sultans. See Amrih Widodo, 'The stages of the State: arts of the people and rites of hegemonisation,' in Review of Indonesian and Malay Affairs, vol. 26, nos 1 and 2 (1995): 1–35, p. 18. The consulate-sponsored gamelan orchestra in Perth that I also took part in was made up of: five members who are consulate staff, four Javanese-Indonesian women who are married to Anglo-Australians; two adults who have mixed parentage (Indonesian-Anglo Australians), and three Anglo-Australians who have an interest in Indonesian traditional music/culture. For more details on the Perth gamelan orchestra see Jonathan McIntosh, 'Indonesians and Australians playing Javanese Gamelan in Perth, Western Australia: community and the negotiation of musical identities,' in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, vol. 10, no. 2 (2009): 80–97.

      [15] The Acehnese Saman dance is known in Perth as a group dance from Aceh, accompanied by chanting of an Islamic prayer. Performers sit in a row and move in sequential rhythms symbolising harmony and unity. This Acehnese dance is also called Ratoh duek, Rateb duek, Rateb Meuseukat or Meuseukat. See Margaret Kartomi, 'The development of the Acehnese sitting song-dances and frame-drum genres as part of religious conversion and continuing piety,' in Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 166, no. 1 (2010): 83–106.

      [16] The angklung traditional bamboo instrument is made out of two bamboo tubes joined together, tuned to a specific pitch set. Each angklung player has a specific pitch or note to play in turn and rattle. In sequence they make up the notes for a complete song. See Margaret Kartomi, Studies in Indonesian Music, Melbourne: Monash University, 1978.

      [17] Philip Yampolsky, 'Forces for change in the regional performing arts of Indonesia,' in Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 151, no. 4 (1995): 700–25, p. 704.

      [18] Yampolsky, 'Forces for change in the regional performing arts of Indonesia, p. 707.

      [19] Pinches, 'Bamboo dancers down under'; Torezani, 'The Latin among Chileans'; Ram, 'Phantom limbs'; Lau, 'Bodily offerings of belonging.'

      [20] Lau, 'Bodily offerings of belonging'; Ram, 'Phantom Limbs'

      [21] Pinches, 'Bamboo dancers down under'; Torezani, 'The Latin among Chileans.'

      [22] Ram, 'Phantom limbs,' p. 134.

      [23] Ram, 'Phantom limbs,' p. 134.

      [24] Torezani, The Latin Among Chileans'; Ram, 'Phantom limbs'; Sin Wen Lau, 'Bodily offerings of belonging.'

      [25] Torezani, 'The Latin among Chileans.'

      [26] Sin Wen Lau, 'Bodily offerings of belonging.'

      [27] Ram, 'Phantom limbs.'

      [28] For details of the interrelation between malu with dance, power and status in Indonesia see Henry Spiller, Erotic Triangles: Sundanese Dance and Masculinity in West Java, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

      [29]See ethnographies by Clifford Geertz, The Religion of Java, New York: Free Press 1960; Ward Keeler, 'Speaking of gender in Java', in Power and Difference: Gender in Island South East Asia, ed. Jane Morning Atkinson and Shelly Errington, Standford: Stanford University Press, 1990, pp. 127–52; Shelly Errington, 'Recasting Sex, Gender, and Power: A Theoretical and Regional Overview', in Power and Difference: Gender in Island South East Asia, ed. Jane Morning Atkinson and Shelly Errington, Standford: Stanford University Press, 1990, pp. 1–58; and Johan Lindquist 'Veils and ecstasy: negotiating shame in the Indonesian borderlands,' in Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology, vol. 69, no. 4 (2004): 487–508; and The Anxieties of Mobility: Migration and Tourism in the Indonesian Borderland, Honolulu: Hawai'i University Press, 2009.

      [30] For detail of nafsu, see James T. Siegel, The Rope of God, Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969.

      [31] Lindquist, 'Veils and ecstasy'; and The Anxieties of Mobility. For details of the interrelation between malu with dance, power and status in Indonesia see Spiller, Erotic Triangles.

      [32] I refer to Australian spouses as 'white' because this term is more readily used by the Indonesian migrants in a similar context to Indigenous Australians' use of 'white' to fellow Australians. 'White' also is more inclusive of spouses who have Eastern-European background but are seen as 'white', as well as those who are not of British ancestry such as those of Irish descent and those from the Jewish diaspora. Moreover, it is more reflective of the racial distinction in the everyday lexicon of the Indonesian-Australian couples.

      [33] Leslie H. Palmier, Social Status and Power in Java, London: Athlone Press, 1960.

      [34] Bryan S. Turner, Social Influence, Milton Keynes: The Open University Press, 1988.

      [35] Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization, trans. A.M. Henderson and Talcott Parsons, Glencoe, Illinois: The Free Press and the Falcon's Bring Press 1947.

      [36] Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization.

      [37] Poquinto, 'Dangdut at Sekaten.'

      [38] See Alison Murray, 'Kampung culture and radical chic in Jakarta,' in Review of Indonesian and Malay Affairs, vol. 25, no 1 (1991): 1–16, p. 11.

      [39] Sandra Bader, 'A second revolution?' in Inside Indonesia, no. 96 (Apr – Jun 2009), online:, accessed 28 September 2010; and Pioquinto, 'Dangdut at Sekaten.'

      [40] Sandra Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage: negotiating Nyawer encounters at Dangdut and Tarling Dangdut Performances in West Java,' in Indonesia and the Malay World, special issue 39, no. 115 (2011): 333–335.

      [41] Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage.'

      [42] Harriot Beazley, '"I Love Dugem": Young women's participation in the Indonesian dance party scene,' in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific no. 18 (2008), para. 16 , online:, accessed 28 September 2010.

      [43] Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage.'

      [44] Poquinto, 'Dangdut at Sekaten.'

      [45] See Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage'; Diane. Mulligan, 'The discourse of Dangdut. Gender and civil society in Indonesia,' in Gender and Civil Society. Transcending Boundaries, ed. Jude Howell and Diane Mulligan, New York: Routledge, 2005, pp. 117 –38; Andrew N. Weintraub, 'Dangdut soul: who are 'the People' in Indonesian popular music?' in Asian Journal of Communication, vol. 16, no. 4 (2006): 411–31; Andrew N. Weintraub, '“Dance drills, faith spills": Islam, body politics, and popular music in Post-Suharto Indonesia,' in Popular Music, vol. 27, no. 3 (2008): 365–90. Andrew N. Weintraub, Dangdut Stories: A Social and Musical History of Indonesia's Most Popular Music, Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2010.

      [46] Poquinto, 'Dangdut at Sekaten.'

      [47] Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage.'

      [48] Shinta, Perth, 12 August 2007.

      [49] Sunaina Maira, 'Belly dancing: Arab-fave, Orientalist feminism, and U.S. Empire,' in The American Studies Association, Project Muse Scholarly Journals (2008): 317–45, online:, accessed 28 September 2010.

      [50] Maira, 'Belly dancing.'

      [51] Kevin O. Browne, 'Awareness, emptiness, and Javanese selves: jatilan performance in Yogyakarta, Indonesia,' in The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, vol. 4, nos 1&2 (2003): 54–71.

      [52] Browne, 'Awareness, emptiness, and Javanese selves.'

      [53] Ningsih, the choreographer, acknowledged this as a danger if we danced in Indonesia—because of all the spirits that exist there we could be endangered if we did not have a pawang or a dance leader who can control the spirits.

      [54] Max Richter, 'Other worlds in Yogyakarta: from jatilan to electronic music,' in Fluid Identities and Pop Cultures in Indonesia, ed. Ariel Heryanto, London: Routledge, 2008, pp. 21–45.

      [55] Kartomi, 'Performance, music and meaning of Reyog Ponorogo.'

      [56] Kartomi, 'Performance, music and meaning of Reyog Ponorogo'; and Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo.'

      [57] Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo.'

      [58] Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo.'

      [59] Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo.'

      [60] Wilson, 'Reog Ponorogo.'

      [61] Felicia Hughes-Freeland, 'Gender, representation, experience: the case of village performers in Java,' in Dance Research, vol. 26 (2008): 140–67, p. 157; Sandra Bader, 'Dancing bodies on stage.'

      [62] Kartomi, 'Performance, music and meaning of Reyog Ponorogo.'

      [63] Camencita Palermo, 'Anak mula keto "It was always thus": women making progress, encountering limits in characterising the masks in Balinese masked dance-drama,' in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, no. 19 (2009), online:, accessed 30 September 2010; Barbara Hatley, 'Hearing women's voices, contesting women's bodies in Post New Order Indonesia,' in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, no. 16 (2008), online:; and Natalie Kellar, 'Beyond New Order gender politics: case studies of female performers of the classical Balinese dance-drama Arja,' in Intersections: Gender and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific, no. 10 (2004), online:, accessed 28 September 2010

      [64] Hatley, 'Hearing women's voices.'

      [65] Hatley, 'Hearing women's voices.'

      [66] Hatley, 'Hearing women's voices.'

      [67] Kellar, 'Beyond New Order gender politics.'

      [68] Bottomley, 'From another place,' p. 88.

      [69] Torezani, 'The Latin among Chileans'; Ram, 'Phantom limbs.'

      [70] Ram, 'Phantom limbs.'


Published with the support of Gender and Cultural Studies, School of Culture, History and Language, College of Asia and the Pacific, The Australian National University.
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