Dr Desy Ayu Pirmasari

Dr Desy Ayu Pirmasari


I am a feminist ethnographer and a scholar activist with expertise in feminist postcolonial and decolonial studies; gender, sexuality and identity politics; climate and disability justice. I am an Indigenous Dayak from Kalimantan (Indonesia), I speak English, Indonesian, Malays and Banjarese, Dayak Bakumpai and Javanese, three other Indonesian languages.

I received ESRC Impact Acceleration Account 2023 for ‘Kayuh Baimbai Project: Co-designing a Disability-Inclusive Disaster Preparedness Toolkit in South Kalimantan, Indonesia’. I also lead the Indonesian workstream of Gender, Generation and Climate Change (GENERATE): Creative Approaches to Building Inclusive and  Climate Resilient Cities in Uganda and Indonesia.

I have a Ph.D. in Politics and a Masters in Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies from Lancaster University. My doctoral thesis explores the codification of Islamic law by the state and how the law is practiced and preserved in society. I also investigates how gender is constructed within the law and how women negotiate their position and perform agency. It was based on six months’ ethnography fieldwork in 2016-2017. My research was informed by Constructivist Grounded Theory and Critical Discourse Analysis.

I was awarded a Chevening Scholarship in 2012, the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office international awards programme for individuals with a strong academic background, outstanding leadership talent and excellent records of achievement. In 2015, I was one of only thirty women from all over Southeast Asia selected for the Young Southeast Asian Leaders’ Initiative (YSEALI) Generation  Women’s Leadership Forum, organised by The United States Mission to ASEAN. In 2016, I was invited to meet the US Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Ms. Catherine Russell with whom I highlighted some findings from my research regarding gender discourse within the application of Islamic Law in Aceh and other gender related issues in Indonesia.

Prior to my Ph.D., I have over eight years experience of working as journalist. I worked as an Associate Producer at Bloomberg TV Indonesia and prior to that as a reporter at tvOne (a major national TV station in Indonesia). I covered major global political events, including the Arab Spring in Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, conflict in Mindanao (the Philippines), conflict in Southern Thailand, and the North Korea Rocket Launch. I also interviewed  Abdullah Badawi (Prime Minister of Malaysia 2003-2009), Anwar Ibrahim (Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia 1993-1998), Joseph Estrada (President of the Philippines 1998-2001), Imelda Marcos (First Lady of the Philippines 1965-1986) and some top leaders of the Moro rebel groups in Mindanao, the Philippines.

Research interests

My main research interests are in: gender and religion, Indonesia, Southeast Asia, gender identities and politics, gender and climate change, climate and disability justice, feminist postcolonial and decolonial studies.


<h4>Research projects</h4> <p>Any research projects I'm currently working on will be listed below. Our list of all <a href="https://environment.leeds.ac.uk/dir/research-projects">research projects</a> allows you to view and search the full list of projects in the faculty.</p>

Research groups and institutes

  • Social Justice, Cities, Citizenship