Organized Panel Session
This paper examines how intertwined forms of displacement shape women’s experiences in the transnational Balinese music community. Invoking feminist models of ethnography that foreground autobiography and personal narrative, I center the life story of Ibu Ni Ketut Marni, a dancer cum musician, instructor, culture bearer, and the wife of master drummer and pedagogue Bapak I Made Lasmawan. Drawing on long-term, ongoing fieldwork and collaboration with Marni and Lasmawan in Bali and Colorado, I show how Marni’s life illustrates multiple, co-constitutive forms of displacement in the diasporic Balinese gamelan community, where the pairing of musician-husbands and dancer-wives is common. I argue that the physical displacement that marks these performers’ transnational existence catalyzes intangible displacements of power and validity on multiple levels, and that ethnomusicology plays a causal role in this process. Musicians like Marni and Lasmawan come to the U.S. to work in university world music programs, even as ethnomusicological narratives about Balinese music pedagogy that focus primarily on male gamelan instructors to the exclusion of their wives themselves displace women’s vested cultural authority onto the male master musicians they support. And yet, as migration displaces communal ritual and religious obligations onto the shoulders of individual women, women in fact become even more central to gamelan performance in the US context than in Bali. Re-centering women’s experiences reveals the necessary and significant role women play in both creating and maintaining Balinese music communities in the U.S. while highlighting the agency they exhibit in doing so.