Sisters and Lovers: Women and Desire in Bali / Edition 336

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Overview

The Balinese devotion to their temples is both legendary and conspicuous, but the ways in which they enshrine their innermost desires have long been hidden. This ethnography draws back the veil by focusing on the romantic experiences of women in a rural village (Punyanwangi) in North Bali from adolescence to maturity. Delving into the intensity of passion that exists just below the harmonious veneer of traditional patterns of courtship and marriage, motherhood, and connubial fidelity, this book overturns Margaret Mead's assertions of passivity in Balinese social life. Punyanwangi's proximity to a thriving tourist center allows Megan Jennaway to explore as well the striking gender disparities in the ways sexuality and desire are culturally mediated. Aside from service work, women are excluded from entering the tourist domain, yet male sexual adventurism is expected and even encouraged. The bodies of foreign women are thus invested with potent fantasies of exotic desire, while those of local women are muted-denied legitimate avenues of expression. The author invokes Post-Freudian and feminist concepts of sexuality to explain culturally specific psychiatric disorders to which Balinese women are prone, interpreting them as expressions of frustrated desire. She thus convincingly reveals Balinese society as anything but unemotional or stagnant. Rather, it is swept along by currents of emotionally charged desire. By allowing key informants to tell their stories in their own voices and by skillfully interweaving fictionalized interludes, the author gives us not only a rigorously researched ethnography, but an intimate and fully realized portrait of Balinese women's innermost desires.

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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of The Royal Anthropological Institute
[Sisters and a Lovers] is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and detailed in its analysis and conclusions.
— Laura Noszlopy
Asian Studies
Richly textured and emotionally evocative, Jennaway's 'embodied ethnography' makes a compelling case for the linkages between women's speech, sexuality, and relative powerlessness. The book is a valuable and vivid analysis of Balinese emotional life and gender roles. This important study will be of interest to a wide and varied audience.
— Nancy J. Smith-Hefner, Boston University
Linda Connor
The vivid portrayal of the eroticised subjectivity of North Balinese women is complemented by rich analyses of social life. Jennaway provides us with a profound understanding of the impediments to women’s agency, while at the same time speaking eloquently of women’s strength and determination.
Anthropological Forum, Vol 15, No. 1, March 2005 - Lyn Parker
This is a really enjoyable book; it is engagingly written and easy to read, and the issues raised are long neglected and important. It contributes new understandings of Balinese society. Jennaway explicitly targets the traditional muteness and objectification of women in Bali, and aims to make women the articulate subjects of the book. In this, she succeeds admirably. In Balinese society and in the anthological literature on Bali, women's voices have traditionally been suppressed (Ch. 1). In focusing on female experience and subjectivity, and especially in attending to young women's unconventional expressions of desire (for example, deception of parents, 'hysterical' attacks; Chs 6 and 7), Jennaway allows the women to 'speak' and express their feelings.
Journal Of The Royal Anthropological Institute - Laura Noszlopy
[Sisters and a Lovers] is beautifully written, thoroughly researched, and detailed in its analysis and conclusions.
Asian Studies - Nancy J. Smith-Hefner
Richly textured and emotionally evocative, Jennaway's 'embodied ethnography' makes a compelling case for the linkages between women's speech, sexuality, and relative powerlessness. The book is a valuable and vivid analysis of Balinese emotional life and gender roles. This important study will be of interest to a wide and varied audience.
Lenore Manderson
An original, compelling, and beautifully paced book that marries ethnography and theory artfully and captures the realities of its subjects skillfully and convincingly. It will be an important contribution to the literature in the fields of sexuality and gender studies, area studies, and ethnography.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742518643
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/15/2002
  • Series: Asian Voices Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 336
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.88 (w) x 8.92 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Megan Jennaway is an honorary research advisor, Department of Asian Languages and Studies, University of Queensland, Australia.

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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations and Tables
Foreword
Preface
Ch. 1 Introduction: Ethnography and Fiction in Punyanwangi 1
Ch. 2 Muting Desire: Women, Sex, and Discourse 17
Ch. 3 Producing Desire: Village Economy and Social Organization 33
Ch. 4 Marrying Desire: Locating Women in the Social Order 59
Ch. 5 Depriving Desire: Lovina Tourism and the Economy of Pleasure 99
Ch. 6 Delinquent Desire: Female Sexuality in Punyanwangi 137
Ch. 7 Expressing Desire: Women and Hysteria in Punyanwangi 181
Conclusion: Denial and Delirium: Women's Desire as Transgressive Capital 215
Epilogue: The Naming Ceremony 227
App. A On Ethnographic Truth(s) 241
App. B Discourse and Dichotomies 245
App. C: Notes on the Village Household Census 247
App. D: Cloves 249
App. E Gender and Labor in Punyanwangi 253
App. F List of Agnatic Descent Groups (Tunggalan), Desa Adat Punyanwangi 263
Glossary 265
Bibliography 283
Index 303
About the Author 309
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