1st Edition

Islam and Citizenship in Indonesia Democracy and the Quest for an Inclusive Public Ethics

By Robert W. Hefner Copyright 2024
    402 Pages
    by Routledge

    402 Pages
    by Routledge

    Islam and Citizenship in Indonesia examines the conditions facilitating democracy, women’s rights, and inclusive citizenship in Indonesia, the most populous Muslim-majority country and the third largest democracy in the world. The book shows that Muslim understandings of Islamic traditions and ethics have coevolved with the understanding and practice of democracy and citizen belonging.

    Following thirty-two years of authoritarian rule, in 1998 this sprawling Southeast Asian country returned to electoral democracy. The achievement brought with it, however, an upsurge in both the numbers and assertiveness of Islamist militias, as well as a sharp increase in violence against religious minorities. The resulting mobilizations have pitted the Muslim supporters of an Indonesian variety of inclusive citizenship against populist proponents of Islamist majoritarianism. Seen from this historical example, the book demonstrates that Muslim actors come to know and practice Islam in a manner not determined in an unchanging way by scriptural commands but in coevolution with broader currents in politics, society, and citizen belonging. By exploring these questions in both an Indonesian and comparative context, this book offers important lessons on the challenge of democracy and inclusive citizenship in the Muslim-majority world.

    Well-written and informative, this book will be suitable for adoption in university courses on Islam, Southeast Asian Politics, Indonesian and Asian studies, as well as courses dealing with religion, democracy, and citizen belonging in multicultural societies around the world. The book will be of interest to the general reader with an interest in Islam, citizenship, and democracy.

    1. Introduction: Islam and Citizenship in Democratic Indonesia; 2. Citizenship Amidst Resurgence; 3. Religionization and the Politics of Recognition; 4. Exclusivist Islamism and the "Conservative Turn"; 5. Islamic Education and Ethical Prioritization; 6. Women and Gender Contention; 7. Whose Shariah? Religious Politics and Citizen Ethics; 8. Conclusion: The Quest for an Inclusive Public Ethics; References Cited; Index


    Robert W. Hefner is a professor in the Department of Anthropology and the Pardee School of Global Affairs at Boston University, USA. He is the president of the American Institute for Indonesian Studies and a former president of the Association for Asian Studies. He specializes in the study of Muslim politics, modern public ethics, and democracy across cultures. His previous publications include the Routledge Handbook of Contemporary Indonesia (ed. 2018).

    "This book will be a standard reference for any future work on Islam and democracy in Indonesia or comparatively across the Muslim world. It is a culmination of more than two decades of work and experience addressing Islam, democratic politics, and society in Indonesia."

    – Vedi Hadiz, University of Melbourne, Australia

    "Robert W. Hefner is the leading scholar of Islam and democracy in Indonesia – the demographically largest and intellectually most vibrant Muslim-majority country. This book will be considered as Hefner’s magnum opus – a culmination of his half-a-century-long examination of diverse religious views and practices as well as their political implications in Indonesia’s rural and urban settings. Islam and Citizenship analyzes the complex relations between Muslim politics, democracy, and public ethics with a nuanced attention to the Indonesian context while also providing insights for the rest of the Muslim world. It masterfully covers contested issues such as sharia, gender relations, and education. This groundbreaking book will shape the field of religion and politics for many years to come."

    Ahmet T. Kuru, San Diego State University, USA. Author of Islam, Authoritarianism, and Underdevelopment: A Global and Historical Comparison

    "Hefner’s book puts Muslims at the center of the study of Islam in Indonesia, which he describes as having a ‘complex and agonistic plurality’. This is a welcome intervention in contemporary commentary on Islam and politics, taking readers on a multisited and multidimensional journey. Deploying an erudite lens that combines his ethnographic vision with comparative politics and sociology, he finds a concern with shared ideas of public ethics at the heart of contemporary contestations in the Muslim public sphere. Care of the social emerges as a key element accounting for the tenaciousness of Indonesian democracy, in the face of the conservative turn."

    Kathryn Robinson, The Australian National University

    “This book manuscript – a magnum opus by arguably the most esteemed scholar of Islam in Indonesia and among the keenest thinkers on Islam, democracy, and comparative political philosophy more generally – is destined to be a classic. The depth of socio-historical knowledge of Indonesia, matched with an impressive engagement with an incredible range of social science theorists in anthropology, political science, and elsewhere, results in a complex portrait of religious politics a quarter century after the downfall of Suharto’s authoritarian regime.”

    – James B. Hoesterey, Emory University, USA