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The political downfall of the Suharto administration in 1998 marked the end of the "New Order" in Indonesia, a period characterized by 32 years of authoritarian rule. It opened the way for democracy, but also for the proliferation of political Islam, which the New Order had discouraged or banned. Many of the issues raised by Muslim groups concerned matters pertaining to gender and the body. They triggered heated debates about women’s rights, female political participation, sexuality, pornography, veiling, and polygamy.
The author argues that public debates on Islam and Gender in contemporary Indonesia only partially concern religion, and more often refer to shifting moral conceptions of the masculine and feminine body in its intersection with new class dynamics, national identity, and global consumerism. By approaching the contentious debates from a cultural sociological perspective, the book links the theoretical domains of body politics, the mediated public sphere, and citizenship. Placing the issue of gender and Islam in the context of Indonesia, the biggest Muslim-majority country in the world, this book is an important contribution to the existing literature on the topic. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars of anthropology, sociology, and gender studies.
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Sonja van Wichelen is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Pembroke Center at Brown University, before which she held a Postdoctoral Fellowship with the Center for Cultural Sociology at Yale University (2007-2009). Her research focuses on cultural politics in the age of globalization and engages with issues of religion, gender, transnational adoption, ethnicity, and multiculturalism.Review:
"This book provides an interesting discussion of the vibrant discourse in the four important cases (current developments of gender, Islam, and politics and their relation to globalization and consumerism in post-Suharto Indonesia) not only between secular and Islamist players but also among Muslims themselves. This in turn underscores the greater role of Islam and Muslims in shaping the public sphere and contributing to the making of the nation-state in post-Suharto Indonesia. This book is able to present interesting data on the making of modern Indonesian citizens. It does so be presenting new images of a rising Muslim middle class made up of modern Muslim women and men, while tracking the shifting notions of masculinity and femininity in the new images of manhood and womanhood developing in post-Suharto Indonesia. This book is recommended for students or those who are interested in Islam, politics, gender and Southeast Asian studies, and provides a general preliminary understanding of the current developments of Islam, gender, politics, and democratization in post-Suharto Indonesia, the biggest Muslim-majority country in Southeast Asia and in the world" - Kurniawati Hastuti Dewi, Center for Political Studies, the Indonesian Institute of Sciences, Jakarta.
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