“Seeking Allataala in Everyday Life”: Understanding Queer Spiritual Space of Bissu Community in Indonesia

Petsy Jessy Ismoyo, Heddy Shri Ahimsa-Putra, Siti Syamsiyatun


Bissu is one living piece of evidence on how adat negotiates with religion. However, the proliferation of Islamic fundamentalism that emerged after the collapse of the New Order promoted the category of ‘Pabissu’ as a way to delegitimate Bissu. Hence, this study aims to explore Bissu’s spirituality with decolonizing methodology. In order to construct a counternarrative of ‘Pabissu’, this study has carried three lines of inquiry. Firstly, the authors discuss how androgynous ancestors exist in Attoriolong as Bissu’s authority in Bugis culture. Secondly, the authors analyze the ‘Islam Bugis’ vernacular culture that changes due to homonationalism. Thirdly, the authors unravel Bissus’ spiritual quest in the search for Allah as an effort to understand the presence of the queer spiritual space within “Islam Bugis.” Data were collected from (offline and online) fieldwork, ranging from in-depth interviews to direct observation. The results of this study are: (1) The concept of “Islam Bugis” allowed for the possibility of ‘coming out,’ and ‘acceptance’ in the family and immediate environment; (2) Pangngaderreng does not eliminate conflict but prolongs a passive tolerance of queer individuals without of any protective mechanism from the government; (3) Queer spiritual space shows embodied resistance through individuals’ understanding and enacting the five pillars of Islam, six pillars of Islamic faith, and fitrah in everyday lives beyond the ‘disciplined body.’ 


Queer Space; Decolonizing Religion; Bissu; Islam

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Interview with Kerukunan Waria Bissu Bone (KWRB), was carried in Kopitiam Bone, in December 3, (2021), Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

Interview with PO, was carried in November 11, (2021), in Lapangan Merdeka, Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

Interview with PAD, 4/2/22 was carried in February 4, (2022), in Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

Interview with PY, was carried in February 7, (2022), in Kantor Dinas Kebudayaan Kabupaten Bone, Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

Interview with IC, was carried in February 7, (2022), in Kantor Dinas Kebudayaan Kabupaten Bone, Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

Interview with AY, was carried in May 14, (2022), in Bone Regency, South Sulawesi.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18415/ijmmu.v10i2.4508


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