Indonesia has a long and rich history of cross-gender performance in which males embody femininity onstage. Until recently, these diverse, locally-specific traditions were a widely accepted cultural practice. However, modern negative associations with the LGBTQ+ community and, by extension, the West, threaten the survival of traditional Indonesian cross-gender dance. By investigating feminine male gender performance in Java, I will uncover how Indonesians draw from localized cultural traditions, as well as globalized practices like Western-style drag, to destabilize restrictive national constructions of gender. I posit that traditional cross-gender dance serves as a culturally- sanctioned outlet for male expressions of femininity that exist outside of both the stigmatized Indonesian category of waria (transgender woman) and Western queerness. However, modern-day acceptance of traditional cross-gender dance is tenuous at best, hinging on the incorporation of humor and an emphasis on local tradition which distances Indonesian cross-gender dance from its Western counterpart, drag.
Asian Studies | Dance | Gender and Sexuality | Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies | Pacific Islands Languages and Societies | Performance Studies | Sociology of Culture
Rhodes, Calla, "Local Traditions, Global Influences, National Belonging: Conditional Acceptance of Cross-Gender Dance in Central Java, Indonesia" (2023). Independent Study Project (ISP) Collection. 3648.
Asian Studies Commons, Dance Commons, Gender and Sexuality Commons, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Studies Commons, Pacific Islands Languages and Societies Commons, Performance Studies Commons, Sociology of Culture Commons