Sylvia Tidey is a postdoctoral researcher in the Health, Care and the Body Program Group at the University of Amsterdam. In 2012 she obtained her PhD from the University of Amsterdam. She obtained her MA degree (with distinction) in 2006 and her BA degree (with distinction) in Cultural Anthropology and Development Sociology from the University of Leiden.
Sylvia's research centers around the uneasy intersections between hegemonic ideological discourses and the unintended and unexpected ways in which they get played out in people's everyday lives. She is particularly interested in the challenge that care in Indonesian family contexts pose to particular socio-political conceptions of the good life. On the one hand this entails taking a critical stance toward dominant regimes of truth such as Good Governance, HIV prevention ideology, and human rights discourse. On the other hand, this also requires ethnographic attention to how people, from bureaucrats to transgenders, manage to create livable lives in negotiation with the effects of such regimes.
In her current postdoctoral project she takes a phenomenological approach to studying the everyday lives of Indonesian transgender women (waria). She looks at the ways in which waria manage to live lives they consider to be happy amidst conflicting and contradictory notions of what counts as the good life as practiced in family intimacies and espoused by medical and rights discourses.
For her Ph.D. research Sylvia focused on how family expectations and obligations blur lines between corruption and good governance in local state contexts in Kupang, eastern Indonesia. For this she conducted twelve months of ethnographic research in local government offices in order to provide a unique ethnographic account of state-society relations from within the local state itself. She is particularly interested in the question of how anti-corruption discourses have affected corrupt practices.