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An Anthropological Approach to the Islamic Turn in Indonesia's Regional Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 August 2018

Julian Millie*
Anthropology, Monash University, Australia;


Existing analyses of the Islamic turn in regional Islamic politics in Indonesia have overlooked the possibility that these politics – often critiqued for their negative implications for minorities and vulnerable segments – are to some extent reflections of indigenous cultural dispositions. Drawing on the author's long-time ethnographic work in West Java, as well as recent anthropological theorising about public ethics in Islamic societies, the article identifies a significant correlation between, on the one hand, the practical forms and legislative outputs of the regional Islamic turn, and on the other, a characteristic notion of public decorum that is asserted in routines of embodied Islamic observance. The article notes that this extension of an embodied, practice-based public ethics into the political regimes of national life has created conflict with the disembodied civic order established in Indonesia's constitution and state ideology.

Copyright © Institute for East Asian Studies, Sogang University 2018 

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