Negotiating public space : women and the pesantren in Jombang East Java

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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- This thesis focuses on the dynamic lives of Indonesian Muslim women, within the particular context of pesantren education. Amidst the critics who decry the non-egalitarian gender relationships and teachings within pesantren education, and the preserved paternal leadership in which men are given more priority, there are certain pesantren women leaders who are able to "negotiate" their way within the power structures of the increasing numbers of pesantrens for females. This thesis is based on fieldwork which was undertaken in Jombang, East Java province, Indonesia. Jombang is a district in Indonesia which is most well known as a kota santri (a town of a pesantren students). In the fieldwork area, I focused on the pesantren female leaders primarily and secondarily on the pesantren female students. Their lives reflected a fusion of the public and private domains within the lived reality of the pesantren institution. Within a pesantren context, a kiai is usually the central figure (Dhofier, 1982). He has the highest religious authority and leadership within his pesantren, and to some extent also within the society. In a pesantren context, the female members of a kiai's immediate family, namely nyais also have considerable derivative power in their own ways. Their kin relationship to the kiai provides those women with particular [religious and other] privileges within the pesantren context and even beyond. This power is similar to the ibuism/priyayization concept of Djajadiningrat (1970), in which although ibu can be literally translated as mother, the term does not convey women's lives within the private domestic sphere. With her status, an ibu or nyai may attain access to the "leadership" of a female pesantren. Their status as a nyai also sanctions them with religious and social responsibility. The nyais' roles and experience within and outside the pesantren suggests the interplay of public and private practice that intersects with patriarchal notions of authority that exist in a pesantren tradition. Within that context a nyai is "negotiating" a space with the leader of a pesantren and the system of a pesantren to act effectively in her public roles and activities. Nevertheless, nyais in this position have several "pre-requisites", for instance to keep a balance so that her family domestic duties are not neglected. Besides, she must be seen to attach importance to the notion of honour and modesty. Within the educational setting of the pesantren with its boarding school system.
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