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A Divinely-Inspired Gender: The Manang Bali Shamans of Sarawak - QueerLapis
"Nestled in the heart of Malaysian Borneo were the manang bali, a group of gender nonconforming shamans from the indigenous Iban tribe. They probably no longer exist due to mass conversions from animism to Christianity. Nevertheless, their historical presence holds present-day Malaysia accountable for its failure to recognise and appreciate its non-cisnormative and non-heteronormative past. The reality that the manang bali existed and were once lauded for their spiritual roles challenges and disrupts today’s state-sanctioned transphobic and homophobic rhetoric.

Spiritual intermediaries – such as shamans, mediums, witch doctors, ritualists and healers – who manifest gender non-conformity reside in many corners of Asia. These include the Ngaju Dayak basir of Indonesian Borneo, the bissu of the Indonesian Bugis people, the nat kadaw of Burma and the hijra of India.

The manang bali were one among many types of manang, albeit a minority group of shamans. They are also referred to as ‘transvestite’ or ‘transformed’ shamans, although Penelope Graham uses the latter term to denote her preference for a more open-ended approach in trying to understand these gender non-conforming individuals. This detail is important to avoid a simplistic and anachronistic interpretation of these shamans as transgender, intersex, genderqueer or cross-dressing individuals. While there were female-bodied manang bali who lived as men, the majority were biological males who lived as women.

According to existing resources, the manang bali receives directives, through dreams, from the transformed petara or deity Menjaya Manang Raja to become shamans. They must obey, or face pain of death or madness. As part of responding to their spiritual calling, male-bodied individuals adopted the mannerisms, attire and lifestyle of women, even taking on male partners as husbands. Against Valerie Mashman’s belief that the manang bali had ‘no gender and both genders at the same time’, I argue that there is every indication to show that the manang bali lived solely as women in accordance with divine imperatives. The gender and sexual transitions that occurred were integral to the initiation process of the shaman, adopting a new personal and social identity in order to serve the community. Due to these extreme requirements, the manang bali occupied the highest ranks of shamanhood.

Like other manang, the manang bali possessed a human body (tuboh). Nevertheless, as exalted beings, they were believed to have the ability to interact directly with the soul (semengat) as well as the ‘plant aspect (ayu or bunga)’ or health dimension of a person, and with spirits or ghosts (antu). Thus, they had the ability to pierce the sebayan or spirit world. The manang bali were most sought after for their healing abilities. They are said to have received this trait from their patron Menjaya Manang Raja who possessed the ‘ubat penyangga nyawa’.

Nevertheless, the manang bali did not experience unanimous acclaim despite their prowess as spiritual mediators. While they were appreciated for their services and well remunerated, they were simultaneously ‘devalued as lacking social prestige and even an object of ridicule in Iban eyes’. Iban social systems are based on strict gender binaries, and gender transitioning would not have been commonplace. Hence, the manang bali would have caused a sense of unease in the Iban communities despite their divinely-inspired gender status.

All too often, Malaysian leadership experiences a convenient amnesia about the historicity of Malaysia’s gendered and sexual diversity. Revisiting the manang bali provides an opportunity to reconnect with what Farish A. Noor refers to as ‘a deconstructive form of political history’. This form of history gives voice to a dimension of Malaysian reality that has hitherto been overlooked or suppressed, often due to – I add – narrow interpretations of religious modernity. Reconnecting with the manang bali calls to question Malaysia’s antagonistic attitudes towards citizens who either self-identify or are labelled as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, genderqueer, intersex, mak nyah, wanita keras, lelaki lembut, pengkid, cross-dresser, drag queen and queer in their myriad forms.

Gender nonconformity may not be the norm for early Iban communities. Nevertheless, they were accepting and appreciative of the Manang Bali because they realised that the transformed shamans were an integral part of their communities who had many gifts and talents to offer. What would happen, I wonder, if present-day Malaysians of all gender and sexual persuasions courageously took a leaf out of the history book of the Ibans, and learned ways of living together in mutual respect and appreciation in the midst of persistent and irreconcilable differences?"
gender  malaysia  gendernonconformity  non-binary  history  india  indonesia  borneo  shamans  manangbali  sarawak  transgender  intersex  genderqueer  valeriemashman  josephgoh 
april 2018 by robertogreco
Trinh T. Minh-ha - Wikipedia
"In Woman, Native, Other Trinh T. Minh-ha focuses her work on oral tradition – family, herself, and her culture. In this approach Trinh asserts a people’s theory that is more inclusive. This method opened up an avenue of women of color to critique theory while creating new ways of “knowing” that is different than standard academic theory. Trinh proposes to the reader to unlearn received knowledge and was of structuring reality. In Chapter 1 she explores questions of language, writing, and oral tradition. She suggests being critical against “well-written,” and knowing the difference between a “written-woman” and a “writing-woman.42” In the second chapter Trinh repudiates Western and male constructions of knowledge through anthropology. She argues that anthropology is the root of western male hegemonic ideology that attempts to create a discourse of human truth. Mixed in with her stories and critiques are photographic images of women of color from Trinh’s work in film. She includes stories of many other women of color such as Audre Lorde, Nellie Wong, and Gloria Anzaldua to increase the ethnic and semiotic geography of her work, and to also show a non-binary approach that problematizes the difficulty of representing a diverse “other.” Woman, Native, Other, in its inclusive narrative and varied style attempt to show how binary oppositions work to support patriarchal/hegemonic ideology and how to approach it differently to avoid it."
srg  trinhminh-ha  anthropology  hegemony  audrelorde  nelliewong  gloriaanzaldua  non-binary  women  gender  diversity  clarity  oraltradition  ideology  truth  canon  othering  narrative  binaries  patriarchy  reality  structure  convention  colonialism  colonization  decolonization 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Land of the Lustrous - Wikipedia
[via: "‘Land of the Lustrous’ is the Most Visually Interesting Show In Ages"
https://medium.com/@carolgrantr/land-of-the-lustrous-is-the-most-visually-interesting-show-in-ages-fbef949e9dca

"Few cinematic works really capture the horror and beauty of what it means to inhabit a body. Most recent to come to mind is Jonathan Glazer’s Under the Skin, a meditation on the ways bearing a human, female body fundamentally changes you and how you move through the world. And now there’s Takahiko Kyogoku’s Land of the Lustrous, adapted from Haruko Ichikawa’s manga of the same name, about the beauty and agony of inhabiting any body to begin with."



"Speaking of the body as ultimate totem to one’s self, the Gems are depicted as genderless and speak to each other with they/them pronouns. Many of their features are very femme, and they’re voiced by cisgender female actresses, yet they distinctly lack breasts and (presumably) reproductive organs. Their very design, like most elements of the show, is meant to exist in a state of inbetween, of non-binary. Despite being about the inseparability of the Ghost with the Shell, the presentation of bodies (and gender) is as fluid as it is weighty — like Cinnabar’s swirling mercury droplets — and it only adds to the unique physicality of their movements. Like everything else in Lustrous, these elements contradict each other, yet the show lives and breathes comfortably within the blur of those lines.

The shots that frame these bodies also contribute to their deeply physical presence in Lustrous’s environs. Unlike most of the American “Peak TV” shows that imitate Kubrick’s penchant for symmetrical compositions and negative space, Lustrous’s framing is always emotionally clear and concise. While these shots certainly assist with the uniquely cryptic mood and atmosphere, they’re first and foremost about the characters they’re framing, and their positions in the desolate world of the show."]
srg  manga  towatch  anime  cgi  television  tv  film  body  bodies  gender  inbetween  betweenness  non-binary 
november 2017 by robertogreco
Hear Kids' Honest Opinions on Being a Boy or Girl Around the World | National Geographic - YouTube
"What does it mean to be a boy? What does it mean to be a girl?

National Geographic traveled around the world to talk with 9-year-olds and ask what it's like to be growing up in 2016, and how gender affects their lives.

What makes them happy and sad? Is there anything you can't do because of your gender?
Their answers inspire, can make you laugh or cry, and show how the next generation is considering gender identities in a new way.

Read "In Their Words: How Children Are Affected by Gender Issues" from National Geographic Magazine.

http://www.nationalgeographic.com/magazine/2017/01/children-explain-how-gender-affects-their-lives/ "
gender  classideas  children  non-binary  9yos  fourthgraders  fourthgrade  girls  boys  identity  genderidentity 
december 2016 by robertogreco

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