The paper has its focus on majelis taklim (Islamic study gatherings) that are organised by middle-class women in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, who regularly use social media to express their piety. The women also utilize social media to watch preachers online, invite them to speak at their gatherings and to communicate with them on a daily basis. Interestingly, the ideological and cultural background of these preachers can vary greatly. Although some of them can clearly be associated with particular (trans)national Islamic currents, it is much more difficult to categorise their audience. The paper thus questions categories such as “traditionalist”, “modernist”, and “reformist” that have been widely used to describe Islamic movements in Indonesia. It is critical of adopting too readily terms such as “conservative”, “moderate”, “liberal”, and “radical” that derive from the field of politics, or certain Arabic terms including “Aswaja”, “Ikhwan”, “Salafi”, and “Wahhabi” that have entered academic discourse as well. Analysing online and offline practices, the paper traces how a female audience navigates and actively influences the complex social and ideological composition of the Islamic field as it presents itself today in Indonesia. In so doing, the paper attempts to demonstrate that it is increasingly difficult to exclusively rely on established categories and the ways they have been used so far to analyse their mediatised religiosity and to understand their position in Indonesia’s changing Islamic realm.
About the Speaker(s)
Martin Slama is a researcher at the Institute for Social Anthropology, Austrian Academy of Sciences, where his work focuses on contemporary socio-religious dynamics in Indonesia. He has conducted extensive fieldwork in Indonesia on Muslims’ use of social media, Hadhrami-Arab communities, and young people’s engagement with the internet. Recently, he edited a special issue of the journal Indonesia and the Malay World (vol. 46, no. 134) on “Practising Islam through social media in Indonesia”.