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8 - De-centering Islamic Authority

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 April 2020

Chiara Formichi
Cornell University, New York
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This chapter revolves around the emergence of new sites of authority as the outcome of very peculiar connections between upward mobility, consumption, state intervention, shifting gender norms, and concerns with piety in Southeast Asia, arguing that such combination and sequence of factors has allowed for the emergence of “religious authority” from the margins, in terms of geography, content, methods, and positionality, in Indonesia and Malaysia. This is illustrated with the cases of halal certification, modest fashion, and feminist juridical interpretation of the scriptures. The “sites” of authority here are not only innovative because they are the outcome of modern socio-political developments, but also because, through the deployment of new technologies, they have been elevated from “local” to “global” (or at least transnational), challenging discourses on religious authority that for centuries privileged the Arab “center” over Asian “peripheries,” ultimately positioning Southeast Asia’s Muslims as authoritative “pathfinders”.

Islam and Asia
A History
, pp. 236 - 263
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2020

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