Trans-Asia as Method Seminar – Bride-prices and dowries in a changing Asia

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Date(s) - 08/05/2015
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm

ACJC Seminar rooms, Building H, 8th floor (H8.06)


Trans-Asia as Method Seminar

Bride-prices and dowries in a changing Asia

The Monash Asia Institute and Centre for South East Asia Studies is bringing together four experts with research in the marriage/material exchange nexus in Asian countries. With so many contemporary reports directing our awareness to the physical and economic vulnerability of women in many countries, it is timely for us to revisit the role of marriage practices in this vulnerability through the eyes of researchers with contemporary experience.

Samanthi Gunawardana, Sara Niner and Swati Parashar, all from the Monash School of Social Sciences, and Dr Eka Srimulyani from the Ar-Raniry State Islamic University, Banda Aceh, Indonesia, will reflect on their experiences carrying out fieldwork alongside women affected by marriage conventions in which material exchange is an element. Their experiences shed light on the experiences of women in Sri Lanka, India and Timor Leste.

Questions to be discussed include:

What sort of exchanges are taking place around marriage in Asian countries of today?

  • What are the implications of dowries and bride-prices for women’s vulnerability?
  • What avenues are there for protection of women from abuse of marriage practices (rights-based regimes, criminal law, etc)?
  • Exchanges around marriage can serve important social functions that protect women: is this still possible when social systems are under such great strain?
  • What initiatives are emerging at domestic and international level as responses to marriage practices that leave women vulnerable to abuse?


Dr Samanthi J. Gunawardana

Samanthi J. Gunawardana is a Lecturer in Gender and Development in the Faculty of Arts, Monash University. She has a PhD in Economics and Commerce from The University of Melbourne. Samanthi’s research examines the impact of development policy on employment systems, labour, and livelihoods among rural women in South Asia, with a particular emphasis on gender, development and labour in Sri Lanka. Key topics explored include export processing zone employment systems, freedom of association, labour organizing, labour migration, and connections between the political economy of households and development policy. She is currently working on a research project with Oxfam-Australia in Sri Lanka on facilitating rural women’s participation and recognition in sustainable livelihoods in Sri Lanka.


Dr Sara Niner

Dr. Sara Niner is an interdisciplinary researcher and lecturer in Anthropology with the School of Social Sciences at Monash University. She is an expert in the field of gender and international development with a particular interest in those issues in the post-conflict environment of Timor-Leste and is widely published in this field.  As part of an ongoing program of research into the politics of gender in Timor-Leste she is  undertaking new research into Masculinities in Timor-Leste building on a 2013 study into young men in Timor-Leste and their attitudes to gender roles, relationships and violence which informed a gender-based violence prevention campaign. Another new project for 2015 is an Oxfam Monash Partnership study undertaking a gender analysis of Oxfam partnered Savings and Loans Schemes in Timor. Futher work on the links between gender inequity, empowerment and the economy is also being developed.


Dr Swati Parashar

 Swati is lecturer in Politics and International Relations in the Monash School of Political and Social Inquiry. She is interested in understanding and theorising the nature of political violence and wars in South Asia, particularly women as perpetrators and survivors of violence. Her interest in political violence is based on experiences of growing up in an India in the last two decades when state and non-state violence have been on the rise while political spaces have been marked by intense contestations among various actors. Her ongoing projects include a critical assessment of the Maoist insurgency in India and the ‘securitisation’ of development. She is also working on the politics of ‘difference’ and ‘location’ in feminist IR and postcolonial approaches. She has published articles in the Asia Times; Straits Times, Singapore; Daily Mirror, Colombo; Sri Lanka Guardian; ABC Drum Opinion; South Asia Analysis Group; E-IR Journal and on various blogs and websites.


Dr Eka Srimulyani,

Eka is Assistant Director of the Postgraduate Program at the Ar-Raniry State Islamic Institute in Banda Aceh. She was an Australian Development Scholarships awardee in 2002 and holds a PhD in International Studies from the University of Technology, Sydney. Her doctoral thesis was published in the Netherlands by University of Amsterdam Press under the title Women from Traditional Islamic Educational Institutions in Indonesia: Negotiating Public Spaces. She has experience in managing gender and economic empowerment at local community level, and continues her research into women’s Islamic participation in Aceh and Indonesia.