Nancy J. Smith-Hefner is an associate professor of anthropology at Boston University and a specialist in religion and gender in Southeast Asia. Her early research included projects on language, identity, and gender socialization in Java, Indonesia, and identity and moral education among Cambodian refugees in the United States. Her current research takes up questions of gender and sexuality among Muslim Javanese youth.
At Radcliffe, Smith-Hefner will complete a book tracing recent trends and controversies in Muslim youth culture in Java. The book examines new practices of language, dress, courtship, and marriage in relation to public debates on masculinity, femininity, and middle-class subjectivity. Rather than a unitary Muslim conformity, the study emphasizes the increasing pluralization of options for contemporary youth and the contests to which the new gender diversity has given rise.
Smith-Hefner received her PhD from the University of Michigan. She is the author of Khmer American: Identity and Moral Education in a Diasporic Community (University of California Press, 1999). Her work has been supported by the Fulbright Senior Scholar Program, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Social Science Research Council, and the Spencer Foundation.