Leslie Butt

Leslie Butt
Associate Professor

PhD McGill University

Office: COR B223

I am a medical anthropologist with strong interests in social and cultural anthropology. I have conducted research in eastern Indonesia on families, reproduction and health care. In the past decade, I have worked with research teams on studies about sex work, unplanned pregnancy, health regimes, and HIV/AIDS in the politically volatile Indonesian province of Papua.

My current research interests focus on the impact of international migration on the experiences of eastern Indonesian families. I lead an international study on family, reproduction and migrant Southeast Asian women. A recently completed study explored how undocumented migrant parents from Lombok, Indonesia negotiate the citizenship of their children (with co-investigator Jessica Ball, UVic and collaborator Harriot Beazley, USC Australia I am developing new research on the meanings associated with identity documents in Southeast Asia.

In addition, I am affiliated with the Centre for Asia Pacific Initiatives (CAPI) as a Research Fellow, and support several initiatives within the centre’s Migration and Mobility Program.


  • Family and migration
  • Medical anthropology
  • Indonesia; the Pacific; Southeast Asia
  • The state and everyday life
  • Gender and reproduction

Faces of UVic Research video

In this video, Dr. Leslie Butt talks about her research in eastern Indonesia and discusses challenges facing migrant families and how the decisions they make affect their children's well-being.

Current projects

Selected publications


  • 2013- (co-editor, with N. Adelson and K. Kielmann) Troubling Natural Categories: Engaging the Medical Anthropology of Margaret Lock. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2008 - (co-editor, with R. Eves) Making Sense of AIDS: Culture, Sexuality, and Power in Melanesia. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press.

Articles and chapters

  • 2018 - Butt, L. Introduction: the absent child and transnational families, special themed section. Global Networks. 18(1). DOI: 10.1111/glob.12173
  • 2018 - Butt, L. Affects of unease: mother–infant separation among professional Indonesian women working in Singapore. Global Networks, 18(1). DOI: 10.1111/glob.12175
  • 2018 - Butt, Leslie and J. Ball. Strategic actions of transnational migrant parents regarding birth registration for stay-behind children in Lombok, Indonesia. Population, Space and Place, DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/psp.2152
  • 2018 - Butt, Leslie. Absence and Ambiguity: Documenting the Moment of Birth in East Lombok, Indonesia. Anthropologica 60:1-11. DOI: 10.3138/anth.2017-0026.
  • 2018 - Winarnita, M., C. Chan and L. Butt. Exile, mobility and reproduction among contemporary transnational Chinese-Indonesian women, Identities, https://doi.org/10.1080/1070289X.2018.1537639
  • 2017 - Butt, L., H. Beazley and J. Ball. Migrant mothers and the sedentary child bias: constraints on child circulation in Indonesia. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology, Issue 4. https://doi.org/10.1080/14442213.2017.1346699,
  • 2017 - Beazley, H., L. Butt and J. Ball. ‘Like it, don’t like it, you have to like it’: children’s emotional responses to the absence of transnational migrant parents in Lombok, Indonesia. Children’s Geographies. Pages 1-13 Received 01 Mar 2017Accepted 20 Oct 2017Published online: 23 Nov 2017https://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2017.1407405
  • 2017 - Ball, J., L. Butt and H. Beazley. Birth registration and protection for children of transnational labour migrants in Indonesia, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, Special issue on ‘Irregularity, Statelessness and Protection in Southeast Asia.’
  • 2016 - Butt, L., J. Ball and H. Beazley. False papers and family fictions: Household responses to ‘gift children’ born to Indonesian women during transnational migration. Citizenship Studies 20(6-7):795-810.
  • 2016 - Butt, L. and J. Ball. Birth registration in Southeast Asia: a child’s foundation right? Asian Population Studies, Published online: 20 Oct 2016, Pages 1-3,  http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17441730.2016.1239431
  • 2015 - Living in HIV-land: Mobility and Seropositivity in Highlands Papua. In M. Slama and J. Munro (Eds.), From Stone Age to Real Time: Temporalities and Mobilities in West Papua. Canberra: ANU E-Press.
  • 2015 - Sexual Tensions: HIV-positive Women in Papua. In S. Graham Davies and L.R. Bennett (Eds.), Sexing Indonesia: Sexual Politics, Diversity, and Representation in the Reformasi Era. London: Routledge.
  • 2014 - Butt, L., J. Ball, N. Fox, and H. Beazley. Stateless Children in Asia and the Pacific: Research Methods and Models in an Era of Precarity. CAPI Working Paper 2013-2. Victoria, BC: Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria.
  • 2013 - Local Biologies and HIV/AIDS in Highlands Papua, Indonesia. Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry 37(1):179-194.
  • 2013 - Migration, Mobility and the Asia-Pacific Region: New Research Directions for the Global Era. CAPI Working Paper 2013-1. Victoria, BC: Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria.
  • 2013 - Rational Sex at the Margins of the State: AIDS and Politics in Highlands Papua, Indonesia. In Adelson, N., L. Butt and K. Kielmann (Eds.), Troubling Natural Categories: Engaging the Scholarship of Margaret Lock. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2013 - Adelson, N., L. Butt and K. Kielmann. Introduction: Troubling Natural Categories. In Adelson, N., L. Butt and K. Kielmann (Eds.), Troubling Natural Categories: Engaging the Scholarship of Margaret Lock. Montreal: McGill-Queens University Press.
  • 2012 - Young Female Sex Workers’ Experiences of HIV Testing and Treatment in Conditions of Political Violence in Highlands Papua, Indonesia. Western Humanities Review 66(3): 35-57.
  • 2012 - Munro, J. and L. Butt. Compelling Evidence: Research Methods, HIV/AIDS, and Politics in Papua, Indonesia. The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 13(4): 334-351.
  • 2011 - ‘Can you Keep a Secret?’: Pretenses of Confidentiality in HIV/AIDS Counseling and Treatment in Eastern Indonesia. Medical Anthropology 30(3): 319-338.