Gender, Sexual Politics, and Queer Theory

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Body 2 Body: A Malaysian Queer Anthology
Edited by Jerome Kugan and Pang Khee Teik
Published by Matahari Books, 2009

Body 2 Body is the first of its kind: a compilation of original creative writing on the gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transsexuals and transvestites of the country. Long denied a voice in the mainstream, the queers of Malaysia are boldly and fabulously represented in 23 stories, fiction and non-fiction. From coming out to coming home, breaking up to breaking down, changing sex to changing heart, the stories are different from anything you may have read in — or about –Malaysia.

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The Mak Nyahs: Malaysian Male to Female Transsexuals
by Yik Koon The
Published by Times Academic Press, 2003


This book explores the issues of the transsexuals in Malaysia. Through numerous studies, interviews with the relevant parties and accounts from the ‘mak nyahs’ themselves, The Mak Nyahs: Malaysian Male To Female Transsexuals gives a profound insight into the world of transsexuals the history and definition of ‘mak nyahs’, what it means to be a ‘mak nyah’ in Malaysia, transsexuals in other countries and the views of the relevant parties regarding transsexuals in Malaysia among others. For those who seek a deeper understanding of the ‘mak nyahs’, this book provides intriguing and enlightening facts and accounts, which help to broaden ones perspective of this community who form part of the diversity of the human landscape.

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Feminism and the Women’s Movement in Malaysia: An Unsung (R)evolution
by Cecilia Ng, Maznah Mohamad, and tan beng hui
Published by Routledge, 2006


Combining both personal and academic insights into the Malaysian women’s movement, this study provides an in-depth account of the multiple struggles of the Malaysian women’s movement, from securing gender equality in a patriarchal society to achieving unity among members of a multi-ethnic society that are further divided along class and religious lines.

The book centres on a crucial argument: that in the context of an ethnically fragmented post-colonial, authoritarian society, an autonomous woman movement, which began in the early eighties had actually achieved significant political success. However the study observes that by the late 1990s, feminist issues were also readily appropriated by the state and the market, and also suggests that the emergence of ‘market feminism’ poses specific challenges for the future of the Malaysian women’s movement. This thorough and engaging account of feminism and the women’s movement in Malaysia will capture the interest of scholars, policy makers and activists.

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Matriliny and Modernity Malaysia

Matriliny and Modernity: Sexual Politics and Social Change in Rural Malaysia
by Maila Stivens
Published by Allen & Unwin, 1996

From the ‘Women in Asia Publication Series,’ an investigation of sexual politics and social change amongst the population of rural Malaysia, this text explores the links between gender, “adat perpatih” (the matrilineal customary law), and developments in the Malaysian state of Negeri Sembilan. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, the author shows that although tradition has survived colonialism and the growth of modernity in Malaysia over the last century, the future of “adat perpatih” is under threat.

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Reason and Passion: Representations of Gender in a Malay Society
by Michæl G. Peletz
Published by University of California Press, 1996

Reason and Passion Malay Society

This book provides a historical and ethnographic examination of gender relations in Malay society, in particular in the well-known state of Negeri Sembilan, famous for its unusual mixture of Islam and matrilineal descent. Peletz analyzes the diverse ways in which the evocative, heavily gendered symbols of “reason” and “passion” are deployed by Malay Muslims. Unlike many studies of gender, this book elucidates the cultural and political processes implicated in the constitution of both feminine and masculine identity. It also scrutinizes the relationship between gender and kinship and weighs the role of ideology in everyday life. Peletz insists on the importance of examining gender systems not as social isolates, but in relation to other patterns of hierarchy and social difference. His study is historical and comparative; it also explores the political economy of contested symbols and meanings. More than a treatise on gender and social change in a Malay society, this book presents a valuable and deeply interesting model for the analysis of gender and culture by addressing issues of hegemony and cultural domination at the heart of contemporary cultural studies.

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