I am a social and cultural anthropologist and my main research interests are the anthropology of Indonesia, women and gender relations, education and the environment. I conducted doctoral fieldwork in east Bali in 1980-81, studying the integration of a pre-colonial kingdom into the Indonesian nation-state. That was when I became interested in education and its role in citizen creation: seeing little kids trooping off to school, wearing the colours of their national flag in their white shirts and red skirts and shorts. It became obvious that the Suharto government was using Development as a tool of nation-state making: government-sponsored Green Revolution technology was intervening in centuries-old, sustainable, wet rice cultivation; women were being enjoined to use IUDs to limit their fertility and traditional birthing practices were being medicalized; a plethora of Development projects masuk desa (entered the village). Eventually most of these phenomena found their way into my first book, From Subjects to Citizens: Balinese Villagers in the Indonesian Nation-State (2003).
But not before I had helped to build a house, plant an orchard and arboretum and had two children. We lived in the beautiful hinterland of Mt Warning in north-eastern NSW. My anthropologist’s antennae were excited by life in an alternative community, a multiple occupancy. I loved living in the subtropical rainforest: I shared the natural “lap pool” with platypus; I was surrounded by magnificent forests, hundreds of species of birds, gorgeous orchids, palms and ferns; and entertained by koalas, possums and antechinus. I can’t say the same of poisonous ticks, ants and snakes, nor of the back-breaking work of digging out and scrubbing rocks (for the stone house). I like to claim I wrote the first PhD thesis on a computer powered by a waterfall (might not be valid).
Academia beckoned. I took up a re-entry postdoctoral fellowship at ANU and the rest is history: a two-year stint as a lecturer at the University of Tasmania in Launceston (continuing the tradition of living in beautiful places), and then accepted a lectureship at The University of Western Australia – arguably the most beautiful university campus in Australia.
- Company:The University of Western Australia
- Short Bio:Associate Dean of Arts (Postgraduate) Asian Studies