Panel 6 – Subjectivities & Subjugation

Panel 6 – Subjectivities & Subjugation (Gender)

In front of discrimination or naturalization processes, how do women and minority genders build strategies, invent solutions, negotiate and make compromises to make their voice heard, protect their bodies, and open new ways of expressing the plural components of their identity?

In what conditions do inter-individual and inter-social relations contribute to cohabitation and equitability? How can we foster cosmopolitanism, intergenerational solidarities, and gender inclusiveness as assets for a common, desirable and sustainable future?

  • In a classical sense, we will reflect on how gender, generation, class, and race, among other axes of power, intersect, making certain individuals or groups more prone to experiencing discrimination.
  • The dominant ideology of liberal economy and performance can have perverse effects when, in order to encourage the autonomy of women, social minorities, and poor sectors of the population it formulates an injunction that enforces and paralyzes the roles assigned to each. In parallel, behind certain postures of protest, the mobilization of concepts such as gender, race, and class can make the realities to which they relate seem natural and thereby reinforce certain dominant logics. The contributors address the complexity of these different situations in order to understand how certain modes of protest also reflect forms of incorporation, interiorizing assigned places, and norms defined by dominant ideological systems.
  • Through the promotion of individual responsibility, liberal discourse and action can result in the State neglecting to protect its citizens’ collective rights. In the frame of liberal ideology, the individual is encouraged to be his own manager, taking charge of his health, career, wealth, sexuality, and gender. Still, does the system really change, reorganize hierarchies and provide individuals with the possibility to be emancipated from their conventional roles?
  • In some national contexts, the figure of the foreigner is caricatured as a veiled woman wearing a burqa who must remain locked in her home so as not to disturb the indigenous public space. In other cases, women are exemplified and identified with notions of care and altruism. Pointing out anti models and normalizing identities can have similar effects: the image of the emancipated woman can become a tool for subjugation that identifies particular models with a specific gender, class, and race and then fosters inequalities and the control of social categories designated as exterior or different.


Host institution: Altersea (Backup: SEA-Junction)

Chairperson: Silvia Vignato (UNIMIB)


Andi Cipta Asmawaty (APWLD) Critical or Strategic Sisterhood?: The Role of Transnational Feminists to Women’s Leadership in Indonesian Trade Unions

Abstract: By applying the plurality of feminism in Indonesia, this paper aims to discuss the role of transnational feminists in labor activism, particularly those shaping women’s leadership in the trade unions. Collective struggles against patriarchy signify transnational feminists’ identity, which « affects the ways trade unions engage with and contribute to changing gender norms and gender regulations » (Franzway 2017: 62). Transnational feminism has successfully collected women’s power to unite, under the spirit they called sisterhood. There are three approaches applied here. First, channeling women unionists with Indonesia’s prominent women’s rights organizations. Second, providing training on gender awareness or women workers’ rights. Third, building the women labor activist platform within the union.

For some women leaders, allying with women in different unions is essential to promote gender equality in the Indonesian labor movement. It increases women leaders’ awareness of the importance of advancing the gender agenda within the union as well as solving the limitations to women’s participation in the union. On the other hand, the role of transnational feminism has received notable critiques. Some scholars argue that it represents a new face of the imperialism model, for instance, while Indonesian women unionists promoted « their struggles for better conditions at work » agenda, feminists judged that the agenda is not framed through the feminist lens (Ford 2008: 511). From the standpoint of some Indonesian women leaders, the « down to earth » method is a primary way for approaching other women members who are still struggling with the glass ceiling of social classes. 

Keywords: transnational feminists, women leadership, women leaders, trade union, union politics.

Bio & Contact: Andi Cipta Asmawaty graduated from Development Studies, International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague, The Netherlands in 2019. Since 2008, she joined several women’s rights organizations. In 2016-2018, she led the advocacy and research project on women workers in seafood companies in Indonesia. From 2020 until now, she leads Labour Feminist Participatory Action Research on Women’s Labour Rights in Special Economic Zones in Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law, and Development (APWLD). She is also actively involved in a collective of fourteen feminist researchers aiming to support a women’s alliance in Indonesia (Gerak Perempuan). With other Indonesian feminist authors, she wrote her essay on her self-reflection during her research on women’s leadership in a trade union in Indonesia, entitled: “Feminis Cari Ribut” (feminists are looking for a fuss)

Anggaunita Kiranantika (Ewha Women’s University, South Korea) Self Exemption and Deconstructing Gender-Based Working: A Case From Indonesian Migrant Worker

Abstract: Transnational migration carried out by Indonesian today represents a social transformation in labor participation. Since working became a political thing between men and women in Indonesia decades ago due to the division of labor in gendered cultural norms, women have generally worked in the domestic domain while men were working in the public sector. This phenomenon is also found in the lives of Indonesian migrant workers who work in the Republic of Korea. This study aims to analyze and identify the gendered-working deconstruction based on Indonesian migrant workers in South Korea and establishing positive stigma as Indonesian migrant workers abroad. Applied descriptive qualitative as research methods by using an interpretive approach and focus group discussion, purposive sampling was a technique for collecting data on nine Indonesian migrant workers who were conducted in January to March 2021, located in Seoul and Ansan city, South Korea. By applying the concept of deconstruction from Derrida, this study shows that the division of working for Indonesian migrant workers is related to their skills. Different from gender construction in Indonesia, regarding the sexes, will be affecting the working sector for employees in the workforce. Indonesian migrant workers in South Korea emancipate themselves through the recognition of their skills, decent work situation, and high wages. These factors help them to build self representative in their family and relatives in Indonesia to positive imagery in working as a migrant worker.  

Keywords: Deconstructing, Gender-Based Working, Indonesian Migrant Workers, Republic of Korea, Self Exemption.

Bio & Contact: Anggaunita Kiranantika is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Women Studies, Ewha Woman’s University, Seoul, Republic of Korea. She is graduated with a Sociology master’s degree from Airlangga University, Indonesia. Her research focuses on gender, labor, and social justice in Indonesia. She published her research in several reputable journals, books, and international proceedings.

Petsy Jessy Ismoyo (Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia) – Embracing Religion and Gender Pluralism:  Sexual Minority Group of the Bissu, South Sulawesi

Abstract: Bissu is an indigenous category of transgender religious leaders in Bugis society, South Sulawesi. Buginese, mostly Muslims, recognize five genders in their culture: Oroané, Makunnrai, Calabai, Calalai, and Bissu. Despite the increasing number of discriminations against sexual minority groups and historical episodes of persecution and even massacre (1950-1966), Bissu has survived due to their religious authority. This research aims to describe how religion embraces sexual minority groups in South Sulawesi by observing Bissus’ identityThis research is conducted using a qualitative method to examine the identification factor affecting Bissu’s identity. Data collection methods used are literature research, online and offline observations, and online interviews through Whatsapp. Meanwhile, data is analyzed by qualifying, categorizing, explaining the meanings and experiences of Bissu, and drawing a conclusion. Research findings showed Bissu experienced three phases in the process of embracing their identity, namely: (1) Coexistence space created due to the peaceful process of Islamization; (2) Rising tensions of puritan Islam to maintain the sanctity of Islamic teachings; (3) The knowledge resistance of being Hajj Calabai (Transgender Hajj) and Hajj Bissu. These three phases illustrate the dynamics of being Muslim, indigenous, and transgender in a Bissus’ identity.

KeywordsBissu, transgenderism, gender pluralism, South Sulawesi.

Bio & Contact: Petsy Jessy Ismoyo is a PhD student in the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies (ICRS) in Universitas Gadjah Mada. She teaches Multiculturalism and International Relations at Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana (UKSW). She is also a researcher in the Center for the Study of Religion, Pluralism, and Democracy (PusAPDem) since 2017. Her research interests focus on cultural studies and gender studies. She participated in Mindanao Peacebuilding Training through the support of United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia in 2017, SUSI Scholarship for Religious Pluralism at Dialogue Institute, Temple University, from US State Department in 2018, and Indonesia Endowment Fund for Education-Indonesian Lecturer Superior Scholarship (LPDP-BUDI) for her on-going PhD research in 2019.

Trang Hong Vu – Mandate and movement: State feminism vs independent feminism in socialist states – A study of Me Too movement in Vietnam

Abstract: Since the Communist government took power in Vietnam in 1945 respectively, the country has swiftly put in place an unprecedented gender equality mechanism under the motto: men and women are equal. The top-down approach to involve and liberate women in all spheres of society has been referred to by some Western scholars as “state feminism”. This concept, coined by Helga Hernes, originally refers to the state’s active roles in promoting women’s rights, in close cooperation with feminist movements in Western countries,  particularly in Scandinavia. However, in the Vietnamese context, characterized by deep-seated  Confucian culture, colonial history, and a switch from central planning to market economy with socialist orientation, state feminism has a conceptual twist and is more of a mandate than a movement. In particular, state feminism has so far had an uneasy relationship with independent feminist movements. In this paper, a description of state feminism in Vietnam is presented, followed by an analysis of how the Communist government reacted to the Me Too movement, taking place mostly on virtual platforms. The paper seeks to argue that the  Vietnamese government has been to a certain extent positively and reluctantly responsive to the short-lived Me-too movement.  

Keywords: Vietnamese government, state feminism, Me-Too movement. 

Bio & Contact: Trang Vu Hong graduated from the Diplomatic Academy of Vietnam in 2013 and had an Advanced Diploma in Italian culture from the University of Perugia, Italy. A firm believer in gender equality, Trang Vu Hong has worked and volunteered for multiple UN projects on gender and civic engagement. In 2015, she embarked on a multi-university MA program on  European studies in France, Germany, and Sweden on Erasmus Mundus scholarship. Upon graduation, she worked for UNICEF projects in Germany on social integration. Trang finished her 2nd MA in Chinese society at Peking University and served as Director of Delegates at the Yenching Global Symposium in Beijing 2019. She is a Young Leader Fellow of Honolulu-based Pacific Forum, a member of the UN Major Group of Children and Youth, and co-founder of a  social enterprise on education based in Ho Chi Minh city.