Indonesian transitions, public religion and women’s rights

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Date(s) - 14/11/2013
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Menzies Building 11 4th Floor, North Wing, Room N402


Monash Centre of Southeast Asian Studies/Monash Asia Institute presents:


A round-table discussion chaired by Dr Julian Millie (PSI)



Indonesian transitions, public religion and women’s rights




Prof Susanne Schroeter, Goethe-University, Frankfurt

Dr Kristina Großmann, University Passau, Germany


Islam, Sexual Discourses and National Identity

Prof Susanne Schroeter


The re-Islamisation of Indonesia is accompanied by discourses of becoming a good person in a morally guided society. The principle of al-amr bi ‘l-maʿruf wa ‘n-nahy ʿan al-munkar, ‘commanding the right and forbidding the wrong’, is first and foremost understood as a call to regulate sexuality. That this is so is quite clear from past controversies, such as those surrounding Indonesian Playboy, the offensiveness of dance performances and art exhibitions or the passing of an anti-pornography law. Women in particular tend to heed the call to become catalysts and guardians of an Islamic sexual morality. Countless publications, films and internet sites on which modesty, submissiveness and a capacity for suffering are extolled as signifiers of a new form of femininity attest to this development. The presentation will compare the Indonesian case material to examples taken from other Islamic contexts (such as Malaysia, southern Thailand, Tunisia, Egypt and Germany) to consider the question as to whether this is a national or transnational phenomenon.


Prof Susanne Schroeter is Professor for Anthropology of Colonial and Postcolonial Orders at the Goethe-University, Frankfurt, Principle Investigator in the Cluster of Excellence ‘Formation of Normative Orders’, Head of the research group ‘Formation of Normative Orders in the Islamic World’, and Adjunct Professor at University of Indonesia, Jakarta. Her edited latest book is: Gender and Islam in Southeast Asia. Negotiating women’s rights, Islamic piety and sexual orders. Leiden: Brill.



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Contested Visions for Aceh’s Future: Sharia, ‘Democratisation’ and National Identity in Indonesia

Dr Kristina Großmann

Aceh – the westernmost province of Indonesia – is not only known for its pious Islamic population but also for its fight for political independence and fierce resistance to control by outsiders. The almost 30-year-long armed secessionist conflict between the Free Aceh Movement GAM and the Indonesian central government ended only in 2005, partly as a result of the tsunami in 2004. The distinctive Islamic identity of the Acehnese is closely bound to their resilience and has resulted in the construction of an identity as the “cultural other” in contrast to ‘Java’ and the ‘West’. Since 1999 Islamic Criminal Law was introduced in 1999 as a formalisation of sharia (Islamic law). Sharia has been successively implemented in the province and functions as a future model of societal and political order. Muslim women’s rights activists are fighting for a so-called ‘gender-sensitive’implementation of the sharia but to date have had little success. Ignoring women’s issues and promoting male-dominated policies has resulted in an unjust implementation of Islamic Criminal Law. Peace and democratisation processes in Aceh have also resulted in negative consequences for women and minorities and increased the trend of religious homogenisation. The implementation of sharia theoretically should be within the national legal frame but transgressions of national laws remain without consequences.


Dr Kristina Großmann is Assistant Professor at the Chair of Comparative Development and Cultural Studies – Southeast Asia at the University Passau, Germany. Her main research interests are gender, Islam, sharia, Civil Society Organisations (CSO), transformation processes, peace and conflict studies, processes of modernity and globalisation in Indonesia. Recent publications include the book: Gender, Islam, Aktivismus. Handlungsräume muslimischer Aktivistinnen nach dem Tsunami in Aceh [Gender, Islam, activism. Scopes of acting of Muslim activists in Aceh after the tsunami] (2013, Berlin: Regiospectra) Her forthcoming book chapter is ‘Women’s Rights, Activists and the Drafting Process of the Islamic Criminal Law (Qanun Jinayat)’,in: Kloos David, Michael Feener and Annemarie Samuels (eds), Islam and the Limits of the State: Reconfigurations of Ritual, Doctrine, Community and Authority in Contemporary Aceh. Leiden: Brill.