Tigers and gangsters: masculinities and feminized migration in Indonesia

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This paper considers the implications of feminized labour migration for young men in Lampung, Indonesia, drawing on performative approaches to masculinities in the context of wider political economic change. Since the early 1990s it has become commonplace for unmarried women to make temporary migrations to work in the export factories of West Java, with a view to remitting money to their natal households and at the same time, gathering experience of modernity. Whilst unmarried men have been involved in similar movements, a combination of gender-specific labour demand in different places, emergent migrant networks and familial pressures has led to a large cohort of young men being 'left behind', in more than one sense. Drawing on material from interviews and group discussions, the paper focuses on the experiences of these young men, and examines the complex cultural politics of masculinity and femininity that emerging gendered mobility and employment patterns appear to have invoked. In a context where brushes with modernity (through migration and urban employment) are held to contribute to personal power and authority, and where work and the achievement of valued forms of adult masculinity are closely linked to financial autonomy, men's perception of their economic, cultural and social 'lack' relative to young women is a source of community conflict as young men seek to assert themselves as modern subjects in unexpected and sometimes threatning ways.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-238
Number of pages14
JournalPopulation, Space and Place
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2007


  • masculinity
  • performativity
  • migration
  • Indonesia
  • factory labour


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