Cerita pontianak: Cultural contradictions and patriarchy in a malay ghost story

Cheryl L. Nicholas, Kimberly N. Kline

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article explores the synergistic relationship among competing premodern and modern worldviews and gendered power differentials in Malay culture as reflected and constituted in the Malaysia cerita hantu (ghost story) about Pontianak (a female vampire). Narrative and feminist theory are used to suggest that this seemingly mundane and simple ghost story actually operates as one means of making sense of/negotiating the tensions between traditional mysticism and contemporary logocentrism. At the same time, the cerita Pontianak maintains and perpetuates an ongoing hegemonic masculine-feminine dichotomy (perhaps not surprisingly) because of and in the context of shifting cognitive paradigms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)194-211
Number of pages18
JournalStorytelling, Self, Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2010

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeology
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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