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Southeast Asia is home to one of the largest Muslim populations in the world, with more than three hundred million Muslims living in present-day Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and the Philippines. Historically, the region has been closely linked to the larger Muslim world and other Islamicate regions across the globe, functioning as a strategic hub where peoples, products, ideas and cultures flowed and intermingled with the local Muslims to give rise to cosmopolitan states, port cities, neighbourhoods and markets.
This two-day workshop brings together scholars from a variety of disciplines and fields of specialization to deliberate and interrogate on the ways in which global forces had impacted the understanding and manifestations of Islam in Southeast Asia. Covering topics such as Sufism, Muslim women activism, Islamic economics, Muslim popular cultures and Islamic reformism, the speakers will explore how Muslims in Southeast Asia project their own unique conceptions of Islam. The workshop will consider the following questions:
1. Ideas: How have Southeast Asian Muslim scholars (ulama), intellectuals and other Muslim opinion-makers dealt with a variety of influential ideas emanating from the Arab World, South Asia, Turkey and other regions into their local contexts? Have there been efforts to construct new modes of thinking or even madhahib (schools of thought) that depart in novel ways from those that were conceptualized and canonized from outside Southeast Asia? Are there instances in which the writings and ideas of Southeast Asian Muslim scholars have found their way back to the Arab World, South Asia and beyond, thus decentering the diffusionist view of the circulations of Islamic thought?
2. Institutions: What are the various movements, organizations, foundations and establishments from the global Muslim world that have had a bearing upon the lives of Southeast Asian Muslims, both historically and at present? Have globally influential institutions such as Islamic banks and movements such as the Tablighi Jamaat been readily accepted or resisted by local Muslims? Have there been efforts to indigenize the texture of these movements, organizations, foundations and establishments in accordance to local needs and sensibilities? What are the various factors that can explain the persistence of Muslim networks and connections in Southeast Asia with that of the wider Muslim world?
3. Identities: To what extent have global Islamic cultures shape the notions of Islamicity among Southeast Asian Muslims? Is it valid to view the donning of hijab, the rapid spread of busana Muslimah (Muslimah fashion) and the keeping of beards, particularly among Muslim youth, as signs of Arabisation? Are there attempts by local Muslims to project their own expressions of Muslim-ness through bodily practices, music, architecture and the arts? Have Southeast Asian Muslim identities and cultures been imitated and/or consumed by Muslims elsewhere?
Format of Workshop
Each paper presenter will be given a paper that is written by another presenter to comment upon. All presenter are given 30 minutes to present their papers followed by 10 minutes of Questions and Answers.
Papers presented during this workshop will be revised, reviewed and published as edited book in a major university press or special issue of an internationally-refereed journal.
When: Tuesday, Feb. 27 - 2:00 pm
Wednesday, Feb. 28 7:00 pm
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