In the two decades since the fall of the Suharto regime, one of the most conspicuous developments has been the rapidly increasing influence of religious interpretations and practices emanating from the Middle East and more specifically the Gulf states, leading observers to speak of the “Arabisation” of Indonesian Islam. In the preceding decades, the state had strongly endorsed liberal and development-oriented Muslim discourses widely perceived as “Westernised” and associated with secularism and Western education. Indonesia’s unique Muslim traditions have in fact been shaped by many centuries of global flows of people and ideas, connecting the region not just with the Arab heartlands of Islam and Europe but South Asia and China. What is relatively new, however, is the presence of transnational Islamist and fundamentalist movements, which weakened the established nation-wide Muslim organisations (Muhammadiyah, NU) that had been providing religious guidance for most of the 20th century. The perceived threat of transnational radical Islam has led to renewed reflection on, and efforts to rejuvenate, indigenous Muslim traditions.
About the Author
Martin van Bruinessen is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Studies of Modern Muslim Societies at Utrecht University. He is an anthropologist with a strong interest in politics, history and philology, and much of his work straddles the boundaries between these disciplines. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Kurdistan (Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Syria) and in Indonesia and has taught on subjects ranging from Ottoman history and sociology of religion to theories of nationalism.
His involvement with Indonesia began with fieldwork in a poor urban kampung in Bandung (1983-84) and included stints as an advisor on research methods at LIPI (1986-90) and as a senior lecturer at the IAIN Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta (1991-94). After his return to the Netherlands, van Bruinessen took part in founding the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) in 1998 and was one of its professors during 1999 through 2008. Since his formal retirement in 2011, he held visiting professorships in Indonesia as well as Turkey.
Country and Region Studies / Religion in Contemporary Society / Southeast Asia and ASEAN / Working Papers
Last updated on 05/08/2019