Private or public? Defining female roles in the Balinese ritual domain

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3 Citations (Scopus)


While earlier scholarly works pay some attention to the Balinese "family," they are mainly concerned with the composition and internal dynamics of the household, in contrast to the community as a whole. In other words, a distinct boundary is drawn between activities within the "domestic" units and those in a wider "public" domain. And not surprisingly, the domestic sphere is considered primarily as the world of women, whereas the public domain is where men are active in civil or political activities. According to my own findings from a rural village in Central-Eastern Bali, however, women's contribution to religious activities, which take up a substantial amount of time and energy in their daily lives, easily transcends this assumed boundary. Women represent their households in a network of kinship and neighbourhood, and ensure the maintenance of these ties through their participation in the rituals at temples and other households. Preparations of rituals and formal gift-giving take place in the household compounds except for those related to major temple ceremonies. In this respect, the "domestic" place is transformed into a "public" arena, where the enactment and the reinforcement of a complex web of inter-household relations are at play. This paper thus attempts to shed light on the women's ritual-related activities that reveal both the private and public nature of the household, and their roles in defining and shaping the relationships between households.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)722-740
Number of pages19
JournalSoutheast Asian Studies
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 1997

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Development
  • Political Science and International Relations


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