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Leslie Butt


     Associate Professor     

     Office: CLE C229
     Tel.: (250) 721-6647
     Email: lbutt [at] 

Research interests
  • Anthropology of the family; state institutions and the domestic domain
  • The culture and politics of reproduction and sexuality
  • Family planning; HIV/AIDS; health care; health care workers
  • Indonesia; Melanesia; Southeast Asia

Leslie Butt received her PhD in Anthropology from McGill University. Her research focuses on cultural experiences and practices in the arenas of reproduction and sexuality, with a particular focus on infants, childrearing and the meaning of children. Her PhD research and subsequent studies explored how highland Papuan families in Papua, Indonesia negotiate love, sex, marriage and reproduction, and how these goals are achieved within the context of wider state institutions. She has conducted team-based research on sex work, on intergenerational conflicts, on unplanned pregnancy, and on the experiences of being HIV-positive. Her recent interests lie in exploring how families in Southeast Asia constitute kinship and meaning as they mediate new technologies, in particular assisted reproductive technologies.

Leslie has received a number of research grants for her work on reproduction and sexuality:

  • 2012. Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives Professorship in Asia-Pacific Relations. Project Title: Reproduction, Migration, and Cross-border care in Southeast Asia 
  • 2011.  UVic SSHRC Internal Research Grant. Title: Transformations in Kin and Family in the Biotechnology Era: A comparative assessment from Southeast Asia
  • 2008-2011.  SSHRCC Standard Research Grant. Title: Women, AIDS and Stigma in Highlands Papua, Indonesia
  • 2006. UNICEF. Project title: Health, Poverty and Gender in Eastern Indonesia
  • 2001. Family Health International/USAID. Project title: HIV/AIDS, culture and sexuality in Papua, Indonesia
  • 2000-2004.   SSHRCC Standard Research Grant.  Project Title: Sex work and Parenting in Highlands Irian Jaya, Indonesia
Selected publications


  • Adelson, N., Butt, L. and Kielmann, K. Troubling Natural Categories. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, in press.
  • Butt, L. and R. Eves (eds.), Making Sense of AIDS: Culture, Sexuality, and Power in Melanesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 2008.

Click image to go to press information page


  • Munro, J. and Butt, L. Compelling Evidence: Research Methods, HIV/AIDS, and Politics in Eastern Indonesia. The Asia-Pacific Journal of Anthropology 13(4), 2012.
  • Butt, L. Young Female Sex Workers’ Experiences of HIV/AIDS Testing and Treatment in Conditions of Political Violence in Highlands Papua, Indonesia. Western Humanities Review, summer 2012.
  • Butt, L. Rational Sex at the Margins of the State: Violence and Sex Work in Papua, Indonesia. In N. Adelson, L. Butt and K. Kielmann (eds). Troubling Natural Categories. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press, 2012.
  • Butt, L. “Can You Keep a Secret?”: Pretences of Confidentiality in HIV/AIDS Counseling  and Treatment in Eastern Indonesia. Medical Anthropology, 30(3), 319-338, 2011.
  • Butt, L. A Transaction in Ambivalence: Adoption in Contemporary Highlands Papua, Pacific Studies 31(3/4): 107-130, 2008.
  • Butt, L. Secret Sex: Youth, Agency, and Changing Sexual Boundaries among the Dani of Papua, Indonesia, Ethnology 46(2): 113-132, 2008.
  • Butt, L. and J. Munro. Rebel Girls?: Unplanned Pregnancy and Colonialism in Highlands Papua. Culture, Health and Sexuality, 9(6):585-598, 2007. 
  • Butt, L.  Sex Work and Unplanned Infants in Highlands Papua, Indonesia. In P. Liamputtong (ed.), Childrearing and Infant Care: A Cross-Cultural Perspective. NY: Nova Publishers, 2007.
  • Butt, L. ‘Lipstick Girls’ and ‘Fallen Women’: AIDS and Conspiratorial Thinking in West Papua, Indonesia. Cultural Anthropology, 20(3), 412-442, 2005. 
  • Butt, L. Sexuality, the State and the 'Runaway Wives' of Highlands Papua (Irian Jaya), Indonesia. In V. Adams and S. Pigg (eds.), Sex in Development: Science, Sexuality, and Morality in Global Perspective. Durham: Duke University Press, 2005.

PAAS 100:  Introduction to Pacific and Asian Studies
PAAS 208:  Gender and the Family in the Asia-Pacific
PAAS 405:  Reproduction and Sexuality in Asia and the Pacific
PAAS 401:  Health and Healing in Asia and the Pacific
PAAS 495:  Special Topics: HIV/AIDS and Human Rights in Papua, Indonesia

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