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Productive Intolerance: Religious Nationalism and Exclusion in Indonesia

April 11, 2012

Institute of East Asian Studies (2223 Fulton, 6th Floor), 6F Conference Room

Speaker: Jeremy Menchik, Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow in Contemporary Asia, Asia-Pacific Research Center, Stanford University

Sponsor: Center for Southeast Asia Studies

Since 2002, militant groups in Indonesia have pursued a campaign of violence against the minority Ahmadiyah sect. While most scholars attribute this movement to intolerance by a radical fringe on the periphery of society, this talk proposes a different reading based on an intertwined reconfiguration of Indonesian nationalism and the exclusion of the Ahmadiyah. Drawing on archival material on interactions between Ahmadiyah and other Islamic organizations in the period of state-formation, and using ethnographic material from a seminal court case about blasphemy, the talk explores how exclusion of Ahmadiyah and other heterodox groups has played a central role in creating the “we-feeling” that constitutes Indonesian nationalism. The reason this role has been overlooked is that theorists still rely on Benedict Anderson’s secular conception of nationalism.

Jeremy Menchik is a Shorenstein Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford University’s Asia-Pacific Research Center. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and M.A. from the University of Michigan. His research is in the area of comparative politics and international relations with a focus on religion and politics in the Muslim world. He is currently preparing his book manuscript for publication, titled, Tolerance Without Liberalism: Islamic Institutions in Twentieth Century Indonesia.

Event Contact:, 510-642-3609