The Construction of “Mainstream Islam”: the Politics of Orthodoxy and Nationalism in Post-1998 Indonesia

Speaker: Saskia Schäfer
Venue: Hosted via Zoom
Date & Time:
2021-10-13 | 19:00-20:30 (Shanghai)
2021-10-13 | 7:00-8:30 (New York)
2021-10-13 | 15:00-16:30 (Abu Dhabi)
2021-10-13 | 13:00-14:30 (Berlin)

It is common in present-day Indonesia to hear talk of “Islam Mainstream,” which is taken – both by its adherents and critics – to be the successful consolidation of previously more diverse Muslim practices in recent Indonesian society. But how did this consolidation come about and what effects does it have? This talk will offer a discussion about the trajectory and imbrication of Islam and politics in post-reform Indonesia, and will offer some explanations for how the increased homogenization of Islam has been the result of a number of factors, some better known than others. I will argue that it’s only by understanding how a variety of different discourses — from that of Islamism to that of human rights — have influenced each other that we can grasp how Islam in Indonesia has become the bidding ground for multiple sets of competitive religio-political actors.

Saskia Schäfer (BA/MA Humboldt-Universität, PhD Freie Universität Berlin) works on politics and society in the Malay-speaking archipelago. She currently leads a research group on Islam and Democracy in Indonesia and Turkey at Humboldt-Universität in Berlin, where she teaches courses on democracy, literature, and politics. Her academic work has appeared in Critical Asian Studies and Pacific Affairs, and her public writing has been featured in the New York Times and the Guardian Long Read. She is currently completing a book manuscript, “True Islam and the Politics of Orthodoxy: Ahmadiyya, Shia, and Blasphemy in Indonesia”.

Introduction by Zainab Mahmood, Assistant Professor Faculty Fellow of Liberal Studies at NYU Shanghai.

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