Barbara Bicego

PhD candidate
Supervisor: Professor Adrian Vickers
Associate Supervisor: Associate Professor Catriona Elder

Australian women in Bali: A phenomenological study of their experiences from the late 1960s to the early twenty-first century
In this study I deploy a phenomenological qualitative research approach to explore Australian women’s experiences of Bali from the late 1960s to the present, focussing on the physical, social, spiritual, and psychological dimensions of women’s experiences. The study is concerned with understanding women’s lived experience, from their perspective, and with an emphasis on what matters to them. This is the first research to actually ask Australians about their experiences in Bali, and to try to understand what draws them back, and what impacts their experiences have in their day to day lives, and on their sense-of-self. It highlights how Australian women engage with the landscape and environment of Bali, and make sense of their person-to-person cross-cultural links with Bali. My main theorists are Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and Donna Haraway.

I have interviewed thirty women in NSW, ACT, VIC, QLD, and Bali, about their experiences. Interviewees range in age from late teens, to late nineties, with women distributed across the decades of their twenties, thirties, forties, fifties, and sixties. All of the interviewees have been to Bali many times, and some have lived there intermittently, or are permanent residents. ‘Niang’ was ninety seven when I interviewed her, and has since passed away in Bali, where she had lived for half of the year for over thirty years, before moving there permanently for the last three years of her life. She is one of very few westerners to have ever completed all of the ceremonies to become Balinese Hindu, and underwent a traditional Balinese cremation. The interviewees are largely tertiary educated, with an emphasis on the Arts and Social Sciences, two women have TAFE qualifications, a dental hygienist, and a hairdresser, and all are computer literate. The women raised a huge diversity of issues.

About the student

I was an undergraduate in the 1970s, and have been a psychologist for over thirty years. Individual and group behaviours that slowly become taken for granted, and go largely un-critiqued have always interested me, and Australians travelling to Bali is an example of this. Australians’ responses to the 2002 Bali bombings finally prompted me to begin this research. I am passionate about phenomenology, and qualitative research, and this project is equally about the research process and the topic.

Conference presentations

  • Conference Presentations
  • Bicego, B. (2013). ‘Beyond us and them: Australian women’s ethical dilemmas around animal welfare in Bali, Indonesia.’ AASG Conference: Life in the Anthropocene. The University of Sydney, Sydney. (AASG: Australian Animal Studies Group).
  • Bicego, B. (2012). ‘Construing where angels fear to tread: Australians, Indonesians, and other animals.’ PCP Symposium, Hunter Valley. (PCP: Personal Construct Psychology).
  • Bicego, B. (2012). ‘A kitten is falling off the roof in Bali. How shall I/we respond? Understanding day to day ethical decision making by Australian women in Bali, focusing on animal welfare.’ Bali in Global Asia: Between Modernization and Heritage Formation. Universitas Udayana, Denpasar, Bali.
  • Bicego, B. (2011). ‘Intertwining visible and invisible worlds: Understanding Australian women’s lived experience of Bali.’ The 21st Annual APS Women and Psychology Interest Group Conference. Wollongong, NSW. (APS: Australian Psychological Society).
  • Bicego, B. (2011). ‘Between Bali Ha’i and a hard place: Australian women’s lived experiences of Bali.’ Australians Abroad Conference, University of Queensland.
  • Bicego, B. (2010). ‘The beautiful precarious safety of the tightrope dancer’: The personal politics of ‘keeping our balance’ in Bali in the 21st Century.’ Women in Psychology Conference. Nelson, NZ. (School of Psychology, University of Waikato).
  • Bicego, B. (2010). ‘How I cheated on Kelly with Merleau-Ponty and learned to go with the flow in Bali.’ 14th Australasian Personal Construct Psychology Conference. University of Wollongong, Wollongong, NSW.
  • Bicego, B. (2010). ‘Being “‘The girl’ at the cockfight”: Australian women’s journeys through crisis, agency, and change between Australia and Bali.’ ASAA 2010 Women’s Caucus Conference. ANU. (ASAA: Asian Studies Association of Australia).
  • Bicego, B. (2009). ‘The bold flesh of all things: the embodied art of Cokorde Istri Mas Astiti.’ Indonesia Council Open Conference 2009. The University of Sydney.
  • Bicego, B. (2008). ‘Constructing a feminist identity in 21st Century Bali: an exploration of self, feminism and the Divine Feminine in the art of Cokorde Istri Mas Astiti’. 19th Annual APS Women and Psychology Interest Group Conference. The University of Sydney. (APS: Australian Psychological Society).
  • Bicego, B. (2008). ‘Self, art, adat, and the everyday divine: the personal political journey to liberation in the work of Balinese artist Cokorde Istri Mas Astiti’. Ninth International Women in Asia Conference. The University of Queensland. (Asian Studies Association of Australia).
  • Bicego, B. (2006). ‘ ‘gently shaped like warm rice for offerings…’ Hybrid subjectivity in the writing, thought and lived experience of two Australian women in Bali – medical anthropologist, Dr. Barbara Lovric, and author and business woman Janet De Neefe’. The 16th Biennial Conference of the Asian Studies Association of Australia. University of Wollongong.: Online proceedings