Leslie Butt

Leslie Butt
Associate Professor Emeritus



PhD McGill University

Area of expertise

Family and migration, medical anthropology, gender and reproduction, HIV/AIDS, Indonesia; the Pacific and Southeast Asia

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

  • 2020 - Butt, L. (2020). Beyond the government document: migrant family experiences of birth registration in Lombok, Indonesia. The Anthropological Demography of Health, (editors P. Kreager, Q. Kureshi). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, in press.

  • 2019 - Winarnita, M., C. Chan and L. Butt. Narratives of exile twenty years on: long-term impacts of Indonesia’s 1998 violence on transnational Indonesian Chinese women. Identities, https://doi.org/10.1080/1070289X.2018.1537639

  • 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.