Men on the Margins of Burmese Society

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Date(s) - 24/07/2012
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

S9 Theatre, Building 25, Science Precinct


Monash Asia Seminars – Anthropology Public Lecture

Assoc Prof Ward Keeler, University of Texas


In a hierarchy-based society such as Burma’s, every difference carries a difference in prestige. Men and women differ in a lot of ways, but men’s prestige outranks in principle that of their wives. What about men who do not enter into social relations in normal ways, that is, do not marry and have children? Transgendered men (those whose gender-presentation and/or sexuality contravenes the expected) give up much of the status advantage their biological sex would usually grant them. Monks enjoy much greater prestige than their sex alone would furnish them. How do these men, one set positioned at the lower margin, the other at the upper margin, of Burmese society, negotiate their status in a society in which they hold long-recognized but still distinctive roles

Assoc Prof Ward Keeler, University of TexasWard Keeler is a cultural anthropologist specializing in expressive culture, language, and gender studies. Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Texas, he received his BA from Cornell University and his PhD from the University of Chicago’s Committee on Social Thought. The first part of his career he devoted to work in Indonesia (Java and Bali). In recent years he has worked more extensively in Burma. His publications include books on Javanese shadow puppets, a Javanese language textbook and a translation of an Indonesian novel, and several articles on the arts in Java, Bali, and Burma. He has just completed ten months research on Buddhist monks and their relations with lay people in Mandalay.

This Public Lecture follows the Q & A with Ward Keeler on ‘Approaching the Performing Arts from an Anthropological Perspective