Making Spaces in Malaysia: Gender, Politics and New Religiosities

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Date(s) - 11/08/2016
1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

E561, Menzies Building, Monash Clayton Campus


Maila Stivens (University of Melbourne)

When? August 11, 2016, 1.00-2.30

Where? E561, Menzies Building, Monash Clayton Campus


This paper explores the significance of gender relations, gendered action, and women’s rights claims in making new politics, new publics and new private spheres within the Malaysian national Islamic modernity project. The closely entwined moral projects of a modernising state and revivalist Islam, especially the highly gendered cultural politics of the recent Islamising order, have posed significant challenges for both Muslim and non-Muslim activists seeking spaces for women’s rights claims. Rejecting a simplistic association of struggles for gender justice with secularisms and secular modernity, however, the paper points to the roles of Muslim women in the long histories of women’s organisations and women’s sections of parties, and the importance of women’s active engagements in the remaking of Muslim thought and practice in recent years. Contemporary womanist and feminist dialogue and practice are seen as highly significant elements in the ongoing reshapings of ‘public’ and ‘private’ spaces alike.


Maila Stivens is Principal Research Fellow, Asia Institute, University of Melbourne. Her research has included studies of middle-class kinship in Sydney; Malaysian ‘matriliny’; modernity, work and family, and ‘public’ and ‘private’ in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia; Family Values East and West; and ‘New Asian Childhoods’. Previously Director of Gender Studies at the University of Melbourne, she also taught Anthropology at University College, London, and has held visiting fellowships at the Asia Research Institute at the National University of Singapore and in its Cultural studies program, and at the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex. Widely published, her main publications include Malay Peasant Women and the Land (co-author, Zed 1994); Matriliny and Modernity: Sexual Politics and Social Change in Rural Malaysia (Asian Studies Association of Australia, Allen and Unwin 1996); and two co-edited volumes Gender and Power in Affluent Asia (Routledge 1998) and Human Rights and Gender Politics: Asia-Pacific Perspectives (Routledge 2000).


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