Accepted Paper:

Changing moralities and lesbian subjectivities; Indonesian lesbian activism between 1983 and 2015  


Saskia Wieringa (AISSR-UvA)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper discusses changing moralities and lesbian subjectivities focusing on Indonesian lesbian activism between 1983 and 2015. Competing moral discourse will be explored.

Paper long abstract:

Based on 30 years of research I will analyse the changing moralities and subjectivities of 'lesbian' women in Indonesia. If in the early 1980s the lesbian scene was almost totally underground, in 2015 the activist scene is characterized by a few well-established ngos, in the major cities of Indonesia. This opening up coincided with the socalled Reformasi period, after the fall of the dictator, President Suharto. In the early 1980s the moral military-dominated discourse linked non-normative sexualities to suspect political alliances. The first lesbian organization established, Perlesin, quickly folded due to fear for political repression. Presently the struggle for sexual rights is dominant. A proliferation of identities and subjectivites occurred, the relative benefits of which are hotly debated. Contrasting moral discourses are at work. On the one hand Muslim fundamentalist groups abject lesbian behaviours, declaring it 'haram'. On the other hand the widespread use of social media expose selfidentified lesbian women to global lesbian (sub)cultures. In the paper I will deal with the pressure from fundamentalist groups, the role of the internet and social media, leadership patterns and strategies of alliance. In these competing moral arenas women who are attracted to other women navigate their life courses. While their visibility is growing, stigma and discrimination persist

Panel Hier03
Contestations of gender, sexuality and morality in contemporary Indonesia