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Abstract

This paper examines the representation of gender relations in textbooks used to teach the English language in public secondary schools in Brunei. The country is currently ranked 95th in the World Economic Forum (WEF)’s 2020 Global Gender Gap Index among 153 countries analysed. This fact seems to suggest that there is a significant gender gap existing in the country. As textbooks used in schools are considered among the most potent tools for promoting gender in/equality, they deserve to be examined in detail. Using Content Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) as methods of analysis, this paper seeks to address the following questions: (i) in what ways and to what extent, is gender inequality manifested in textbooks used to teach the English language in Brunei and (ii) what are the implications and pedagogical measures which may be taken to address the persistence of gender inequality? The findings of the study show that the portrayal of gender relations in the textbook is fairly balanced, which is rather surprising considering the pervasive perception of conservatism and patriarchy in many Muslim societies, including Brunei. This suggests the need for a nuanced discussion of the nation’s social, cultural, economic, and political milieu in order to obtain a true picture of gender relations in the country.

Note on the Author

Dr. Rommel A. Curaming is Senior Assistant Professor at the History and International Studies Programme of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). He completed his PhD in Southeast Asian Studies at the Australian National University (ANU). Before joining UBD, he was a postdoctoral fellow at La Trobe University and the National University of Singapore (NUS). The thematic areas of his research interests vary but they cohere around the mechanics of the hidden politics of good intentions and the (supposedly) non-political, as evident in knowledge production and consumption in/on Southeast Asia, particularly Indonesia and the Philippines. He has published in journals such as Critical Asian Studies, South East Asia Research, Time and Society, Philippine Studies, Inter-Asia Cultural Studies, among others. His latest publication is Power and Knowledge in Southeast Asia: State and Scholars in Indonesia and the Philippines (Routledge, 2020). His email is rommel.curaming@ubd.edu.bn.

Dr. Sharifah Nurul Huda Alkaff is a Senior Assistant Professor in the English Studies Programme of the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at Universiti Brunei Darussalam (UBD). Her research interests include media discourse analysis and investigating issues revolving around language, gender, and the media. She has published in a number of international journals in these areas including the journal Sexuality and Culture published by Springer. She is currently the Principal Investigator of a research project entitled “A comparative analysis of relationship advice columns in Arabic and Malay language home-grown women’s magazines”. Her email is sharifah.alkaff@ubd.edu.bn.

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