Christina Sunardi, University of Washington, Ethnomusicology
Room 130, 80 Queen’s Park
Event is free and open to the public, and will be followed by a casual reception of wine, non-alcoholic drinks and snacks.
Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork spanning the years 2005-2007 as well as analysis of performance, this talk presents some of the ways in which dancers and musicians in the east Javanese regency of Malang negotiate multiple senses of masculinity and femininity in the Reformation Era (1998-present) both on- and offstage. I contend that male and female performers simultaneously synthesize, contest, redefine, and experience a range of gendered identities, actively affecting—and disrupting—pre-existing conventions of performance, notions of tradition, and assumptions about “male” and “female.” Building on the work of Benedict Anderson (1990) and Nancy Cooper (2000), I explore the perseverance of female power, referring to spiritual power gendered female as “the magnetic power of femaleness” or “magnetic female power.” I argue that by accessing and embodying femaleness through east Javanese presentational dance and its music, female and male performers have maintained the magnetic power of femaleness in the face of a variety of cultural pressures that work to contain, control, and suppress it.
Christina Sunardi is an associate professor in the Ethnomusicology program in the School of Music at the University of Washington, where she has been teaching since 2008. Her interests include performance, identity, spirituality and ethnography in Indonesia. Her work focuses in particular on the articulation of gender through music, dance, and theater in the cultural region of east Java.
Her publications include articles in Bijdragen Tot de Taal-, Land en Volkenkunde, Asian Music, and Ethnomusicology, as well as reviews in the Journal of Folklore Research Reviews, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, and Indonesia. Dr. Sunardi has been studying and performing Javanese arts since 1997 in Indonesia and the United States, earning her Ph.D. in music from the University of California, Berkeley in 2007. Her book about the negotiation of gender and tradition through dance and music in east Java was published by the University of Illinois Press in 2015. In addition to her academic work, she enjoys playing gamelan music with the Seattle-based ensemble Gamelan Pacifica and performing as an independent dancer.