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Asian Religions: Boundaries, Connections and Identities

Is there an Indonesian Islam?

Located on the eastern periphery of the Indian Ocean, the island world of Southeast Asia only became relatively late part of the Muslim world. Dominated by what is now Indonesia, the Islamisation process unfolded along its own historical trajectory. After attaining independence, Indonesia’s Islamic tradition has continued to evolve. Regarded as pluralist and reflective of the country's national motto 'Unity in Diversity’, during both the Sukarno years and Suharto’s New Order Regime, Islam’s political role was carefully circumscribed. In the unprecedented openness of Indonesia’s public sphere since the regime change and start of the democratization process in 1999, this Islamisation process is still ongoing and displaying an increased tendency toward intra-Muslim polarisation as varying interpretations of the religion compete with each other. More recently, there is a growing assertiveness on the part of Indonesian Muslims that their Islamic tradition has something to offer to the wider Muslim world. Drawing on the recent survey he has written for Edinburgh University Press, A History of Islam in Indonesia and earlier book, Islam in Indonesia: The Contest for Society, Ideas and Values, Carool Kersten’s lecture will offer a contextualised assessment of these dynamics and situate them in their historical setting.

This is a public lecture to which all are invited.