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Better Women: The Cultural Politics of Gendered Expertise in Indonesia



ABSTRACT  Through analysis of an increasingly popular phenomenon of courses training feminine comportment in Indonesia, I argue in this article that the appeal and work of femininity can be analyzed as a form of what Timothy Mitchell has called the “rule of experts.” Building on Mitchell, I suggest that expertise is central to authoritarian projects and postauthoritarian aftermath and is especially evident in zones that masquerade as least public and yet most self-evident. As a result, expertise gains its value from the conditions it claims to alleviate. Placing gender at the center of the analytical frame reveals these effects more clearly and can potentially expose the ideological contradictions that ground their allure.

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