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Jakarta Post

‘State Ibuism’ is not dead, it’s not even past

  • Tom Boellstorff


Irvine   /   Sun, January 8 2012   /  02:12 pm

The name Julia Suryakusuma is a familiar one for readers. Through her columns, she touched upon a wide range of social and political topics and has contributed some of the most succinct and insightful commentaries on contemporary Indonesia available.

Not all readers will realize that Julia’s unrelenting humanity, incisiveness and humor have a deep and influential history in the social sciences and beyond.
Permit me a personal example. In January 1997, I was in the midst of pursuing my Ph.D. degree in cultural anthropology at Stanford University. I had been working with gay, lesbian and transvestite Indonesians since 1992 and knew I wanted to study their lives for my dissertation thesis.

Six months before beginning my long-term fieldwork, I came across the essay “The State and Sexuality in New Order Indonesia” in the book Fantasizing the Feminine in Indonesia (La...