Troubling 'kastom' as justice: women, hegemony and human rights in Vanuatu

Presented by ANU College of Asia & the Pacific

In Vanuatu, efforts to expand the role of kastom and the 'power of chiefs' in key justice and governance spaces in the state are increasingly evident. This presentation will argue that this embrace of kastom has enabled a clear assertion of hegemonic masculinity, with direct and negative impacts on the lives of women and girls.

Specifically, these articulations of kastom and the 'power of chiefs', as they are hidden under the cloak of 'culture' and 'tradition', elide the deeply gendered and unequal relationships upon which they are based. Kastom in these articulations institutionalises the power of particular men in a way that allows and enables violence against women and girls - both symbolic and lived - and is increasingly doing so with the complicity of the state.

This seminar is Heidi's final presentation of her doctoral candidature.

About the speaker

Heidi Tyedmers is a PhD Scholar at the School of Regulation and Global Governance at the Australian National University. Her current project broadly considers issues of women's human rights, justice, and governance in the context of Vanuatu. In addition to her academic research, Heidi has spent more than a decade living and working in Vanuatu, conducting community-based research, and collaborating on responses to gender-based violence and access to justice.

This seminar presentation will be online-only for external audiences.

ANU staff and students can attend in-person in the RegNet Level 2 Teaching Room, Room 2.10, 8 Fellows Rd (maximum capacity of 12 persons only).

COVID protocols

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Image credit: Image of women dancing taken by Dan McGarry, part of his Humans of Vanuatu series (CCBY-SA 3.0)


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