Hunters, wedding mothers, and androgynous priests: conceptualising gender among Bugis in South Sulawesi, Indonesia

Sharyn Graham

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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[Truncated abstract] This thesis is an attempt to conceptualise gender among Bugis in South Sulawesi, Indonesia. While the general aim of the thesis is to give readers a sense of how gender is understood and lived out in South Sulawesi, it has other more specific aims. The first specific aim of the thesis is to reveal how Bugis conceptualise gender. It will be argued that, unlike in some societies where gender is based on biology, or on sexuality, for Bugis gender is the result of various combinations of myriad factors. The second specific aim is to reveal the inability of dominant gender theory to explain the intricacies and complexities of Bugis gender. The third specific aim is to show the central importance of gender in Bugis society. It will be demonstrated that gender underpins Bugis daily life and, in order to appreciate the complexity of Bugis society, a gender sensitive analysis is imperative. The fourth specific aim is to establish what connection there is between the contemporary gender system and imaginings of the past. It is no coincidence that each of these aims is encapsulated within four respective chapters. In sum these form part one. The second part of the thesis is based directly on ethnographic material and it supports the more theoretical arguments made in part one. While females are generally conceived of as makkunrai (feminine women), and males are generally conceived of as oroane (masculine men), in South Sulawesi there are three identities which complicate this gender binary: calalai', calabai', and bissu. Calalai' are female-bodied individuals who do not conform to the expectations of makkunrai. Calabai' are male-bodied individuals who do not conform to the expectations of oroane. Bissu are (imagined to be) intersexed and the potency which this combination imbues in them allows bissu to mediate between humans and the spirit world. In challenging dominant gender norms calalai', calabai', and bissu assert their own gendered identity.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2004


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