Atun Wardatun


This article demonstrates how matrifocality (centrality of women) as a cultural value of the kinship system forms collective solidarity as a main way of enacting agency (capacity to act) among the Bimanese Muslims in eastern Indonesia. It aims to argue that the context and method of performing agency are interdependent such that the first is a cause while the latter is a consequence. Scholars tend to focus on the link between source and goal of agency as the motivation of doing agency determining the goal people conceive. Although some scholars have turned their attention to the interconnection of context and method of agency, few of them highlight the collectiveness of performing agency since agency is simply seen as autonomy. By drawing on cases of how Bimanese Muslim women make decisions about marriage partners and negotiate their roles and rights in contributing and receiving marriage payment, the article shows that women’s roles, network, and solidarity are central in constructing agency. The participant observations in 2013 and 2016 illuminate how communality underpins the way Bimanese women pursue their personal goals, underlining their individuality within solidarity. This notion contests the widely accepted binary opposition of individual autonomy and collective solidarity in practicing agency.

Author Biography

Atun Wardatun, PhD. Lecturer at Shari’a and Islamic Law Department, the State Islamic University (UIN) Mataram NTB, eastern Indonesia. Obtained her PhD on Anthropology of Islamic Law from the School of Social Sciences and Psychology at the Western Sydney University, Australia in 2017. Her recent publications are: Confirming Domestic Identity, Supporting Public Commitment (The Case of Tuan Guru’s Wives in Lombok Nusatenggara of Eastern Indonesia), Musawa, Journal Study Gender and Islam, Vol 14 No. 2 (2015) Ampa Co’i Ndai: Local Understanding of Kafā’a in Marriage among Eastern Indonesian Muslims in Al Jami’ah Journal of Islamic Studies Vol 54, No 2 (2016).