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On the Islamic authority of the Indonesian state: responsibility, suspicion, and acts of compliance

Long, Nicholas J. ORCID: 0000-0002-4088-1661 (2017) On the Islamic authority of the Indonesian state: responsibility, suspicion, and acts of compliance. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23 (4). 709 - 726. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.12698


This article examines how the Indonesian state's efforts to style itself as an Islamic authority have influenced the behaviour of its Muslim citizens. I present cases in which Muslims in Indonesia's Riau Islands comply with Islamic state directives in order to transfer responsibility for their actions to the state, showing how such a mode of practice can support Islamic governmentality, bolster nationalism, and constrain civic activism. Interestingly, compliance may occur even when citizens harbour deep misgivings towards a directive, leading me to query whether suspicion is necessarily inimical to authority. I conclude that a pronouncement's Islamic authority hinges on how Muslims relate to their suspicions regarding it, and that, for Riau Islanders, suspicion's urgency has been tempered by cultural models of personhood, individual subjectivity, and the moral murk of post-Suharto Indonesia.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2017 The Author © CC BY 4.0
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BP Islam. Bahaism. Theosophy, etc
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Date Deposited: 05 Jan 2018 14:25
Last Modified: 08 Jan 2024 02:48
Projects: PTA-031-2004-00183
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship, Junior Research Fellowship

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