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The Bureaucratization of Islam and Its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia

In the third event in the ILSP: Law and Social Change Visiting Fellows Workshop Series, Dominik Müller outlines the conceptual framework of his newly established anthropological research group project that investigates the bureaucratization of Islam and its socio-legal dimensions in Southeast Asia. The project views the bureaucratization of Islam not simply in functionalist terms as a formalization, expansion and diversification of Islamic institutions, or as a technology of governance and control. Instead, grounded in ethnographic fieldwork in five countries among involved social actors, it examines the bureaucratization of Islam as a social phenomenon that in many ways transcends its organizational boundaries and informs dynamics of socio-cultural and legal change alongside transformations of the meaning(s) of Islam in state and society. For purposes of illustration, Müller will refer to preliminary ethnographic data from his own fieldwork in Brunei and Singapore, with a particular focus on translations of Islam into the “language” of modern state bureaucracy and how they affect changes in the everyday lives of Muslims in both countries, albeit in very different ways. Finally, Müller will address the challenge of anthropological comparison and identify “family resemblances” that exist in the bureaucratization of Islam in Southeast Asia, despite such far-reaching national variation, with theoretical implications beyond the region.

Discussant: Kristen Stilt, Professor of Law, and Faculty Director, Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change

Please RSVP by April 13. We will send the draft paper as soon as it is available after receiving your RSVP, along with the location of the event.