BA (Asian Studies) (Hons) (ANU), PhD (Anthropology) (ANU)


I am a social and cultural anthropologist, and I have specialised in the societies and cultures of contemporary Indonesia. I have mainly conducted fieldwork in eastern Bali and in western Sumatra, but I have also done fieldwork in cities like Jakarta, Makassar and Yogyakarta. For the last 15 years or so I have been leading research teams that have field sites all over Indonesia. My current team project involves the identification of economic, health and social vulnerabilities in six sites across Indonesia.

My research is usually triggered by social conditions or issues on the ground. Indonesia is an example of a rapidly developing country whose people are experiencing extraordinarily rapid social change. One of my most significant contributions has been to identify questions of urgent contemporary importance and conduct research on them, or enable other academics to do so e.g. the position of women in Islam, religion in public life and environmental issues.

I have always been interested in the environment and even the most casual visitor to Indonesia can see there are many serious environmental problems, so my PhD students and I started work on a big environmental education research project. We were dismayed that there was virtually nothing happening in schools – children were not being educated about the environment and teachers were not being trained in how to teach about the environment. So we have been writing academic books and articles, giving public lectures, visiting schools and writing for the media. Recently I had the pleasure of being asked to review Indonesia's first dedicated university program in teacher training in environmental education, so the word is getting out that Indonesia needs to be much more active in this space.

My work is always informed by a feminist gender perspective. Working in a non-Western society always provokes questions about the applicability of social science theories and concepts in different cultures. For instance, Western feminism and development studies often assume that women's autonomy should be the, or a, primary goal. Working in a country like Indonesia, where people rely on other people, especially family, rather than a social security system for support and security, means that individual autonomy is not actually very useful and so one needs to adjust the goals as well as the tools of analysis. I have promoted and developed the concept of agency as a more culturally sensitive analytical tool for a non-Western milieu, for instance in work on domestic violence and also on women's sexual rights in marriage.

One of my most significant contributions has been the supervision of postgraduate students. Most of my PhD students have been from Indonesia and other developing Asian nations. Recently I have been engaged in contributed to building research capacity in Indonesia, not only through direct supervisions but also by mentoring in Indonesian universities, and collaborating in research and academic writing with junior Indonesian academics.


  • Postdoctoral Fellow, ANU; Lecturer, University of Tasmania; Lecturer-Professor University of Western Australia


  • Emerita Professor, UWA; Honorary Professor, ANU

Various short-term, e.g. University of Cambridge, UK; University of Oxford, UK; University of Indonesia, Airlangga University (Indonesia)

  1. Parker, Lyn and Kelsie Prabawa-Sear, 2019 Environmental Education in Indonesia: Creating Responsible Citizens in the Global South?, Routledge
  2. Parker, Lyn and Pam Nilan, 2013, Adolescents in Contemporary Indonesia, Routledge
  3. Parker, Lyn, 2003, From Subjects to Citizens: Balinese Villagers in the Indonesian Nation-State. Copenhagen: NIAS Press
  4. Parker, Lyn (Editor), 2005, The Agency of Women in Asia, Singapore: Marshall Cavendish
  5. Par, 5. Parker, Lyn, 2016 “The theory and context of the stigmatisation of widows and divorcees (janda) in Indonesia,” Indonesia and the Malay World, 44 (128): 7-26, DOI:10.1080/13639811.2015.1100863