Women, kinship and economy in Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia.
This study investigates the sphere of gender relations in rural
Rembau, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia, a state long famous for its
'matriliny'. The central aim of the thesis is to explore the
significance of this historically reconstituted 'matriliny' for
women's situation, arguing for a re-examination of the clasfc debates ri
about 'matriliny'. This re-examination is conducted by an
the complex relationships between economic and political developments
in the agrarian economy, kinship relations and gender relations.
The thesis first briefly looks at the historical material on
Rembau 'matriliny', suggesting that this has been reified both in the
literature and in local Rembau discourse. It then explores the
interplay between local social forms and the political and economic
changes in the wider society, giving detailed material on women's and
men's activities and land owning in a situation of a declining
village economy and massive out-migration. The following chapters
examine aspects of domestic production, class and gender
differentiation, kinship relations and practices, household
relations, marriage, sexuality and childrearing. The concluding
chapter explores the ways that Rembau women's autonomy is being
undermined by contemporary developments in the Malaysian economy.
The central argument of the thesis stresses the intervention of.
capitalist class interests and the colonial state in reconstituting a
'matrilineal' peasantry characterised by non-capitalist relations of
production within subsistence and petty commodity producing sectors.
Stressing the historical specificities of developments in Malay(si)a,
it rejects functionalist theorisations implying a symbiotic
rektionship between non-capitalist enclaves and the dominant
capitalist sector. The thesis also argues that most previous attempts
to characterise the linkages between these sectors and the dominant
capitalist sectors in many parts of the Third World have been blind
to the significance of gender differentiation within so-called
peasant sectors. An attempt is made to show how deconstructing the
peasant household and exploring the political significance of women's
land ownership and of gender relations overall historically can cast
light on past and present developments in Rembau and other Malay