The Newsletter 67 Spring 2014

The enforcement of heteronormativity in India and Indonesia

Saskia Wieringa

Heteronormativity in Asia is constructed around the claim that all its agents work towards the creation or preservation of harmonious Asian families. Yet, there is enormous violence involved in the perpetuation of this myth. This article is based on the life stories of widows/divorced women, sex workers and lesbians in India and Indonesia. I focus on the factors that produce domestic violence and make it intelligible within the normative patterns of Indian and Indonesian families. The emphasis is on the mechanisms, the passionate aesthetics, that inform the particular construction of heteronormativity in these countries. These aesthetics are commonly classifi ed as ‘private’ as they are played out within the domestic unit.