Keeping the Future at Bay

Waria, Anticipation and Existential Endings in Bali, Indonesia

in The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology
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  • 1 University of Virginia St3fx@virginia.edu
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Abstract

Coming face to face with the inevitable finitude of our existence has a way of clarifying what really matters to us. Such occasions of existential breakdown demand that we actively appropriate our lives and purposely decide how to project ourselves towards the future while drawing on the possibilities available to us. But what if these possibilities offer little for constructing a future we deem desirable? In this article I take a Heideggerian approach to anticipation in order to analyse waria's (Indonesian transgender women) often-stated intention to ‘become normal again’, while seemingly never doing so. Here, then, anticipation is less about an orientation towards specific objectives and more about a response to existential demands, while keeping at bay undesirable futures. Waria's anticipation of a future normal does not suggest an appeal of the normal but, rather, indicates a paucity of available possibilities to draw on in order to orient oneself differently.

Contributor Notes

Sylvia Tidey is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Global Studies Program at the University of Virginia. She is interested in the ethics of care in family intimacies in Indonesia. She has published ‘Corruption and Adherence to Rules in the Construction Sector: Reading the “Bidding Books”’ in American Anthropologist, ‘Between the Ethical and the Right Thing: How (Not) To Be Corrupt in Indonesian Bureaucracy in an Age of Good Governance’ in American Ethnologist, and ‘Requiem for a Waria: Piety and the Political Potentiality of Ironic Experiences’ in Social Analysis.

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