Taaruf online: new spaces for female agency in Indonesian digital/Instagram match-making?

Crawford School of Public Policy | Indonesia Project
GESI Global Seminar

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 08 December 2021


Online via Zoom


Angie Bexley (ANU), Discussant: Kathryn Robinson (ANU)


ANU Indonesia Project

Do the currents of conservative Islam in Indonesia have negative consequences for the possibilities of autonomy in life choices, for young educated Indonesian women? Commentators often make this equation but we know little of the ways in which religious conservatism impacts on practical life choices of young followers of conservative groups.

Like most urban Indonesians, this group also has significant engagement with the on-line world. This presentation will discuss the findings from an 18-month study using ethnographic methods and social networking analysis to explore digital matching-making through Taaruf, (an Islamic pre-marriage practice) on Instagram and 5,149 conversation lines from three main Taaruf internet sites were analysed.

The study explored the question of whether new subjectivities are made possible through these practices, challenging the assumption that religious conservatism automatically means a decline in spaces for women to exercise agency. The findings suggest that Instagram match-making offers young women limited space through which to exercise agency in their choice of life partner, and this may represent an increase in choice, compared with traditional marriage practices mediated within parameters of adat, family and kinship.

This seminar will be recorded and will be available to the public through ANU Indonesia Project Channel.

About the ANU Indonesia Project Global Seminar Series

The ANU Indonesia Project Global Seminar is an online seminar series that explores current developments in Indonesia. The aim of the series is to bring together people and research from around the world to broaden understanding and stimulate debate on key challenges faced by Indonesia, drawing on the experiences of other countries.

Starting from December 2021, the Global Seminars will feature two series:

  1. a Covid-19 recovery series, and
  2. a gender equality and social inclusion series (GESI series).

The Covid-19 recovery series will explore the economic, health and policy challenges Indonesia faces as it emerges from the COVID-19 crisis. The GESI series will highlight current research, policies and community action relating to gender and social inclusion in Indonesia.

Updated:  21 May 2022/Responsible Officer:  Crawford Engagement/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team