Disputing the Muslim Body: Religion, Politics and Gender in Indonesia

Crawford School of Public Policy | Arndt-Corden Department of Economics | Indonesia Project

Event details

Indonesia Study Group

Date & time

Wednesday 07 September 2011


Seminar Room B, Coombs Building, Fellows Road, ANU


Sonja van Wichelen (Centre for Cultural Research, University of Western Sydney)


Indonesia Project
+61 2 6125 3794
In the past few decades Indonesia has been under the process of Islamization. The emergence of Muslim intellectuals, Muslim media, the dissemination of new Islamic knowledge, and the donning of Muslim attire and veiling all attain to new manifestations of “public Islam”. My sociological study, conducted in Jakarta between 2003-2005, focused on debates of “Islam and gender” that have been at the core of this process. By analyzing public discussions on sexuality, veiling, polygamy, and women’s political representation, I argued that public events on “Islam and gender” not only relate to Islam or religious piety as such. Rather, they also indicate paradigmatic shifts in perceptions of politics and identity, such as new class dynamics, shifting ideas of femininity and masculinity, the production of ethnicity, global consumerism, and political power relations. Rather than simplifying these debates into a “problem” of religion and women’s emancipation, I have sought to complicate the events by approaching them from a sociology of public phenomena. The outcomes of my research suggest that the public phenomena around Islam and gender point to reconfigurations of the public sphere and renegotiations of the citizen-subject in political transition. Issues of identity and belonging appeared essential to these reconfigurations and have included the intricate ways in which Indonesian citizenship is defined in the complex relationship between self, civic cultures, and the state.

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