Accepted Paper:

Describing contemporary notions of patriarchy and masculinity in Timor-Leste  


Sara Niner (Monash University)

Paper Short Abstract:

This paper explores politics of gender relations in post-conflict Timor-Leste from formal politics to everyday practices of gender-making. Describing notions of patriarchy and masculinity will deepen understandings of gendered social identities providing tools with which to change negative effects.

Paper long abstract:

The new nation of Timor-Leste has suffered a long history of conflict. Since gaining independence politics has been dominated by a militarised male elite made up of veterans of the independence struggle (Niner 2011). This national political arena can be extremely aggressive and political clashes have led the country into destructive civil conflict. This mode of politics disadvantages women and their voice nationally remains contested, although they are represented in impressive numbers in national parliament. A significant level of gender-based violence is another problem society grapples with. How this persistent militarisation and an associated "retraditionalization" or reassertion of pre-war patriarchy is entrenching the social and economic and social exploitation of women will be discussed.

This paper will argue that this new perspective on contemporary society in Timor-Leste, including a description of the culture of masculinity and patriarchy, will lead to a more accurate assessment and understanding of gender hierarchies. Describing and defining notions of masculinity in this way, including both positive and negative aspects, will deepen understandings of the performance of gendered social identities by men, facilitating change to negative aspects, such as violence against women. This description will also take account of new counter-hegemonic expressions of masculinity and men's activism targeted at addressing gendered violence.

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