Transregional Southeast Asian Connections: Indonesia and Malaysia
Time & LocationSession 7
Thu 13:30–15:00 Room 1.204
- Amanda tho Seeth Philipps-University Marburg
- Mirjam Künkler Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study in the Humanities and Social Sciences
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- Bringing Back Piety: Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca as Catalyst for Gendered Islamization Processes in Malaysia Viola Thimm University of Hamburg
Traveling plays a special role in Islam. The spirituality of travel becomes obvious in the big (haj) and the small (umrah) pilgrimage journey to the holy places of Islam in today’s Saudi-Arabia as well as in visiting holy graves and shrines (ziarah) even outside the Arabian Peninsula. In Malaysia, travel agencies offer umrah journeys connected with ziarah, which are understood here as part religious observance and part holiday and leisure. Malay women from Malaysia especially choose Dubai as the destination for ziarah due to the possibilities for going shopping. They are particularly interested in purchasing the abaya, a long black garment which is usually worn by Arab women. Upon return, the Malay Malaysian women wear the abaya in private and public space in Malaysia in order to express a deeper religiosity on the basis of their pilgrimage experience. Beyond this bodily self-representation, the abaya has become a symbol for overall processes of Islamization in Malaysia that developed only recently. These processes are, in turn, embedded into wider dynamics of sacred landscaping in which the Arabian Peninsular – the place of origin of the abaya – is considered to be the “spiritual center of Islam” while Malaysia positions itself at the margins. Within this Muslim world order, transregional connections lead to an entangled web of meaning making regarding Islamic principles, spirituality, embodiment and gendered social practices.
- From Periphery to Centre: Pathways of Local Knowledge from the South Claudia Derichs Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Knowledge production is a global process, but during the 19th and 20the century, knowledge deriving from the global north (or “the West”) has occupied a hegemonic position in this process. Theories and methods were mostly developed in the global north, only to be “tested” in the regions of the global south. This imbalance came under criticism with the rise of subaltern and postcolonial studies. The term “methodological nationalism” hints at the bias in the field of northern methodology. Critics also demanded to “provincialize Europe” (Chakrabarty 2000) and to decenter and diversify Southeast Asian Studies (Goh ). Studies of the" local" in Indonesia convey the necessity to also apply a more differentiating look and to attend to local experiences, environments, conditions, and frameworks for the development and transformation of theories and methods. The presentation addresses these tasks and suggests some steps to move forward with this shared exercise.
- Narratives of Separation, Pragmatic Cooperation and Surprising Similarities: Movement Between Israel, Indonesia and Palestine Mirjam Lücking Hebrew University of Jerusalem
As the largest Muslim society in the world, Indonesians are deemed to be highly critical of Israel. However, Indonesians’ position towards Israel and Palestine is in fact ambivalent and complex. Muslim Indonesians are divided over questions of boycotting or cooperating with Israel and their relationship with Palestinian and other Middle Eastern Muslims is characterized by a centre-periphery divide in the Muslim world. Among members of Indonesia’s Christian minority there is a popular liking for Israel with an adaptation of Israeli and Jewish symbols. Despite a lack of diplomatic relations, there is significant movement and exchange between Israel and Indonesia: Muslim and Christian Indonesians travel in so called Holy Land Pilgrimages and Al-Aqsa tours to Jerusalem and Israeli IT, software and technology find their way to Indonesia. While on the one hand, competitors in political, economic and religious spheres draw on enemy images and stereotypes, on the other hand, many Indonesians, Israelis and Palestinians pragmatically cooperate with each other and discover surprising socio-cultural similarities and points of connection. This paper explores these ambivalences and complexities in the relationship between Israel, Indonesia and Palestine showing under what conditions transnational movement of people and goods inspires cooperation and where it fosters conflict.
- The Extraversion of Indonesian Islamic Education Amanda tho Seeth Philipps-University Marburg
Traditionally perceived as a geographical and civilizational periphery of the Muslim world, Indonesia is since the early 2000s increasingly pursuing an Islamic soft power diplomacy that aims to globally promote itself as a role-model of a 'democratic Muslim-majority country upholding religious pluralism and tolerance'. This paper analyses the educational dimension of this Islamic soft power policy. It looks at private pesantren education and state Islamic higher education and shows how both are used for Indonesian foreign policy strategies.
Delphine Allès (INALCO, Paris) and Amanda tho Seeth (University of Marburg)
This multi-disciplinary panel discusses religious, cultural, educational, political and economic entanglements of Southeast Asia with other regions. The papers are informed by theories of cultural anthropology and political science and stress agency over structure.
By focusing on Muslim-majority Indonesia and Malaysia, it is shown how ideas, individual and group identities are constituted through movement across space. Furthermore, in the field of religion, Indonesia and Malaysia are increasingly looked up to as potential role models or are striving to exert influence beyond their own regional borders. Accordingly, the panel critically evaluates the long established perception of both countries as an Islamic periphery. By focusing on transregional connectivities, the panel also aims at contributing to the debate on new area studies and the concept of ‘region’ within area studies.