Falling into the Lesbi World

Desire and Difference in Indonesia


Evelyn Blackwood

ISBN : 978-988-8083-38-1

Cultural Studies, Gender Studies Queer Asia (酷兒亞洲)

June 2011

272 pages, 6″ x 9″, 5 b&w illus.

For sale in Southeast Asia, East Asia, and Australia only

  • HK$195.00

Falling into the Lesbi World offers a compelling view of sexual and gender difference through the everyday lives of tombois and their girlfriends (“femmes”) in the city of Padang, West Sumatra. Tombois are masculine females who identify as men and desire women; their girlfriends view themselves as normal women who desire men. Through rich, in-depth, and provocative stories, author Evelyn Blackwood shows how these same-sex Indonesian couples negotiate transgressive identities and desires and how their experiences speak to the struggles and desires of sexual and gender minorities everywhere.

Evelyn Blackwood is a professor in the Department of Anthropology, Purdue University.

Falling into the Lesbi World sheds valuable light on the ways in which locally distinctive sensibilities articulate with regional, national, and transnational discourses bearing on the making of gender and sexual identities among Indonesia’s Minangkabau. This is a very sophisticated, nuanced, and theoretically provocative piece of work that is simultaneously lucid and compelling; it will be of great interest to Southeast Asianists and others committed to understanding gender diversity and sexual subjectivities in postcolonial contexts and beyond.” —Michael G. Peletz, Emory University

“This excellent book draws together and extends recent gender and queer theorizing, making a number of original and important scholarly contributions often ignored in other works on similar topics. Its strength lies in the fact that it is not only well written and engaging but also can be read at a number of different levels simultaneously, offering important theoretical insights that productively draw together Bourdieu, Butler, Foucault, and other postcolonial scholars and theorists while conveying those insights through a detailed and nuanced ethnographic exploration of people’s lives. It is an illuminating work that will no doubt become a key reading for scholars and students alike.” —Mark Johnson, University of Hull

“Blackwood places her subjects within a larger cultural context, and by so doing challenges some of the most common themes within queer scholarship, such as its reliance on studies of gay men and urban spaces. She makes key arguments that are important to queer studies, such as the need for a more nuanced appreciation of how space operates, the troubled use of concepts such as ‘normative,’ and the need to question binaries operating in studies of globalization. This is a much needed contribution to the field of queer studies and the anthropology of sexuality and gender.” —Megan Sinnott, Georgia State University

“Indonesia is home to some of the largest and most diverse gay, lesbian and transgender cultures in modern Asia. This book by one of the world’s foremost authorities on female same-sex cultures in Southeast Asia presents a genuinely novel account of the cultures of lesbi women who love women in Indonesia today. In this hallmark study that synthesizes her many years of research in the country, Evelyn Blackwood presents a lucid account of the lives, aspirations and predicaments of Indonesian lesbi women and demonstrates the vital contribution that scholarship on Asia is making to international queer studies.” —Peter Jackson, Professor of Thai Cultural Studies, Australian National University, Canberra