Bianca J. Smith


The article examines how particular elements of Sasak society structurally facilitate a culture of polygamy in a pesantren (Islamic boarding school) which is managed by male Muslim teachers and preachers (Tuan Guru) who maintain a paradoxical position in society that implicates women in the co-creation of polygamy. By culturally situating Muslim women’s experiences in wider Indonesian and local Sasak discursive contexts, and based on anthropological field research techniques, the article elucidates how Muslim women draw on a range of magical forces and prayers that they learn from their Muslim teachers in the pesantren in response to customary marriage laws of ‘bride stealing’ and orthodox Islam that enable the reproduction of polygamy on the island of Lombok in Eastern Indonesia.


This article was withdrawn in February 2014. A revised version of the article appears in Journal of International Women's Studies, Vol. 15, No. 1 (January 2014).

Author Biography

Bianca J. Smith is an Anthropologist of gender, Islam and spirituality in Indonesia. She received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Monash University, Australia and lives in Indonesia where she works as researcher, lecturer, consultant and motivational speaker. She is co-editor of Indonesian Islam in a New Era: How Women Negotiate their Muslim Identities and is co-founder of Islamic Research and Training Centre in Eastern Indonesia. Her research interests include Sufism, Islamic healing, feminist ethnography and the anthropology of development.