"Sunardi's investigation moves beyond performance. It expands notions of the spiritual power associated with female bodies and feminine behavior"
Christina Sunardi (Ethnomusicology, School of Music) recently received the Philip Brett Award from the American Musicological Society for her book Stunning Males and Powerful Females: Gender and Tradition in East Javanese Dance (University of Illinois Press, 2016).
Christina worked on the book as part of the 2012-2013 Society of Scholars at the Simpson Center. The award recognizes outstanding work in gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual studies.
From the publisher:
In east Javanese dance traditions like Beskalan and Ngremo, musicians and dancers negotiate gender through performances where males embody femininity and females embody masculinity.
Christina Sunardi ventures into the regency of Malang in east Java to study and perform with dancers. Through formal interviews and casual conversation, Sunardi learns about their lives and art. Her work shows how performers continually transform dance traditions to negotiate, and renegotiate, the boundaries of gender and sex—sometimes reinforcing lines of demarcation, sometimes transgressing them, and sometimes doing both simultaneously.
But Sunardi's investigation moves beyond performance. It expands notions of the spiritual power associated with female bodies and feminine behavior, and the ways women, men, and waria (male-to-female transvestites) access the magnetic power of femaleness.