Confessionalization of World Politics in Indonesia

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Gods' Part: The Confessionalization of World Politics and its Strategic Appropriations in Indonesia


12 July 2018 - 16:00 - 17:30

Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC

Admission free. Registration would greatly appreciate.


Dr Amelia Fauzia, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore



Secularism, long (and wrongly) considered a feature of contemporary international relations, has fallen into disuse. It has become outmoded not to take “religion” or “religious actors” into account in the formulation or implementation of international public policies, which increasingly aim at “integrating” or “engaging with” religious actors. In addition to conventional religious diplomacies, a growing number of initiatives aim to foster “intercivilizational dialogue” or “interfaith dialogue”. New interstate alliances based on religious criteria have emerged. And confessional interpretations of human rights are legion. These evolutions, however, refer to a restrictive conception of “religion”, subject to a political filter that addresses religious categories as homogeneous and necessarily distinct from the secular sphere. By selecting actors to represent much broader communities, by offering resources to religious entrepreneurs who succeed best in streamlining their own agendas with the expectations of states and international organizations, or even by creating dynamics of rejection, these initiatives tend to transform the social and religious contexts in which they are deployed. It is the case in Indonesia, where one can observe the conjunction between the narratives conveyed by the key religious actors on the international scene, the official definition of “religion”, and initiatives implemented by co-opted religious organizations. Meanwhile, new religious movements emerge that are characterized by the assertion of their autonomy from politics and institutionalized religions. This presentation thus analyzes the confessionalization of contemporary world politics and explores the ways in which official religious categories have transformed local religious representations and practices, while being transformed in return by their local appropriations.



Delphine Allès, currently a Professor of Political Science at the University of Paris East (France), will be appointed at the National Institute for Oriental Languages and Civilizations (INALCO – Sorbonne Paris City University) from September 2018. Her current research focuses on the quest for a post-Western approach of International relations, rooted in the analysis of the interactions between systemic transformations and local dynamics in Indonesia. She has previously published on the interactions between religious concerns and foreign policy in Indonesia (Indonesia's Transnational Islamic Actors and Transcending the State, Routledge, 2015) as well as security issues in Southeast Asia. She is currently visiting Asia Research Institute as part of a research sabbatical funded by IRASEC (Research Institute on Contemporary Southeast Asia).