Session Submission Summary

Direct link:

271. Beyond Exceptionalism: Critical Perspectives on Indonesian Islam and Democracy. Sponsored by the Indonesia and Timor-Leste Studies Committee (ITLSC)

Sat, March 18, 3:00 to 5:00pm, Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, 2nd Floor, Civic Ballroom North

Session Submission Type: Organized Panel


Indonesian Islam is often claimed to be different from Islamic traditions elsewhere due to Java’s Hindu and Buddhist past, the merchant influence on Islam's arrival, or the dominance of mass organizations like Nahdlatul Ulama. Yet, since Indonesia’s democratization, this view has come to be increasingly questioned—if not entirely disregarded—as liberalization was followed by the passing of shari’a¬ inspired legislation and visible intolerance to minorities. As a result, Indonesian Islam and democracy have come under critical scrutiny.

Extending that scrutiny, the papers on this interdisciplinary panel are united by a shared desire to challenge and to look beyond assumptions of Indonesian exceptionalism. Drawing on ethnographic observations in Jakarta and Washington DC, James Hoesterey shows how “moderate Islam” is constituted and contested through religious outreach and public diplomacy. Using newly collected archival and interview material on intra¬-Muslim conflicts from 1925¬-2014, Jessica Soedirgo demonstrates that the persecution of Ahmadiyah and Shi’a communities is rooted in long-standing competition between local elites rather than solely a product of democratization and new international trends.

Jeremy Menchik draws on a diachronic case study of Indonesian law to demonstrate that the sacralizing of the state predates the democratic transition and constitutes a overlooked counterpart to the much celebrated inclusion and moderation of Islamic parties. Against claims of Islamization and drawing on newly collected interviews, Kikue Hamayotsu contends that anti¬-minority mass mobilization is primarily the result of political and religious elites’ quest for power in order to secure their survival in the face of a perceived threats.

Area of Study

Session Organizer


Individual Presentations


©2019 All Academic, Inc.   |   Privacy Policy