Dancing the feminine : performances by indonesian migrant women




Winarnita, Monika Swasti

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Canberra, ACT : The Australian National University


This thesis is based on ethnographic fieldwork of practicing and performing dances with Indonesian migrant women dancers in Perth, Western Australia and socializing with the women and the communities they belong to. The fieldwork was conducted in 2007 with subsequent annual return trips until 2011, as well as through continued engagement by other forms of communication. This thesis follows the women's journeys and their efforts, firstly to gain recognition as professional cultural performers rather than being seen only as members of an amateur, housewife hobby dance group and secondly to elevate their status beyond that of marriage migrant, specifically within the local Indonesian community. Each chapter is based on particular performances and how each performance evolved from creation to reinvention taking into account factors such as community feedback, and reaction to the group's participation in local multicultural festivals and national celebration days. The thesis discusses how the women negotiate cross-cultural gender structuring discourses and valued ideals of femininity through their performances. Their performances are influenced by transnational and translocal (Jakarta or Bali and Perth) engagements gained through: cultural products; their daily lives amongst the Indonesian migrant community in Perth; their annual return trips to Indonesia; and being involved in the local Indonesian consulate's cultural diplomacy activities. Therefore, within the discipline of anthropology and gender studies this research will contribute to the literature on migration studies, specifically marriage migration of women, migrant's cultural performances, and Indonesian migrants in Australia. The thesis also includes a DVD of two and a half hours which records my edited ethnographic footage, as well as footage given to me by the dancers and their family members. The DVD documents the stories and performances that are related in the thesis. Via a menu, the DVD is organized so that relevant sections can be viewed in conjunction with reading specific chapters within the thesis. Each performance, through the trajectory of its creation and reinvention, tells the narrative of how the Indonesian migrant women try to negotiate representations of themselves and how they deal with the many and varied expectations of their own migrant community, the Indonesian consulate and the larger multicultural Australian audiences as well as the various ideals of Indonesian femininity in migration.






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