Stigmatized Spaces: gender and mobility under crisis in South Sulawesi, Indonesia
The economic downturn in Indonesia (1997–99) has changed the context of gendered spatial mobility in South Sulawesi. For low-income migrants in the region, the monetary crisis has not only reorganized the labor market, but it has also brought about an intensification of the stigma placed on young women’s independent residence in an export processing zone. Household surveys and in-depth interviews with migrants and members of their origin and destination site neighborhoods, both before and during the economic retrenchment, illustrate that ideas about women’s sexual morality are a key part of the context within which migration decisions are gendered. The article situates survey and interview findings within an overview of Indonesia’s recent development history, economic crisis, and official state gender ideology. The article argues that migrants and their communities have identified the ‘prostitute’ as a female-gendered metaphor for the crisis, and finds that post-1997 narratives of women’s mobility increasingly revolve around normative judgements regarding young women’s independent mobility and sexual behavior.