Globalization and Islamic Indigenization in Southeast Asian Muslim Communities

  • James Hoesterey Emory University
Keywords: Islam, Indonesia, Indigenization of Islam, Islam Nusantara, Globalization


For centuries, what is now commonly referred to in the Cold War-inflected English parlance as “Southeast Asia” has been connected to various regions of the world -- from the transmission of Islam from diverse places in the Middle East, South Asia, and China, to engagements with European colonialism and, more recently, post-independence foreign relations in various regional, multilateral, and global contexts. From the eighth century Muslim traders were traversing the ports of what is now called Southeast Asia, and by the turn of the fourteenth century there is evidence for indigenous Muslim communities.[1] Such economic, cultural, and religious exchange over the centuries has not, despite the warnings of some globalization theorists, led to a homogenization of Southeast Asia, much less a homogenization of Islamic ideas and practices. Rather than coming as a single homogenous and authoritative source, the spread of Islam – and Muslim leaders -- across mainland and island Southeast Asia came from many directions and influences from Mecca and Medina to the Swahili Coast, Yemen, India, the Persian Gulf, Patani networks, and as far as China. Whereas some transmission of Islamic ideas from the Middle East (often led by Southeast Asians, or Jawi, pilgrims, scholars, and travelers who return home) have led to contentious debates and power struggles in particular moments and places, such as the struggle between “old” and “young” movements among Minangkabau in West Sumatra, more recently Southeast Asia – especially Muslim Southeast Asia – has experienced other forms of cultural influence and exchange with East Asian countries like Japan and Korea as well as Western countries from the United States to former European colonial powers.[2] As a nation-state, Indonesia has also begun to come to terms with Chinese Muslims as part of the long histories of Islam and Muslims in the archipelago. Along the way, Southeast Asia’s ethnic communities have retained a sense of cultural, national, and religious identities that are influenced, yet never entirely determined, by outside forces.


[1] Feener 2019, “Islam in Southeast Asia to c. 1800,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia.

[2] For Malaysia, see Michael G. Peletz, Sharia Transformations: Cultural Politics and the Rebranding of an Islamic Judiciary (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020). For the influence of K-Pop, see Ariel Heryanto, Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture (Singapore: NUS Press, 2014).



Abdullah, Taufik. 1971. School and Politics: The Kaum Muda Movement in West Sumatra (1927-1933). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, Southeast Asia Program.
Abdul Rozak, Wahdi Sayuti, and Andi Syafrani (eds), Pendidikan Kewargaan: Demokrasi, Hak Asasi Manusia, dan Masyarakat Madani [Civic Education: Democracy, Human Rights, and Civil Society], Jakarta: Asia Foundation and Prenada Media, 2000 [2003].
Ahmed, Leila. Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Problem, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1992.
Alatas, Syed Farid. “Notes on Various Theories Regarding the Islamization of the Malay Archipelago,” The Muslim World 75 (1985), p. 162-175.
Alles, Delphine. Transnational Islamic Actors and Indonesia’s Foreign Policy: Transcending the State, London: Routledge, 2015.
Ardiantoro, Juri and Munawir Aziz, eds. Islam Nusantara: Inspirasi Peradaban Dunia [Islam Nusantara: An Inspiration for World Civilization], PBNU: Jakarta, 2016.
Azra, Azyumardi. The Origins of Islamic Reformism in Southeast Asia: Networks of Malay-Indonesian and Middle Eastern Ulama in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2004.
Brenner, Suzanne. “Private Moralities in the Public Sphere: Democratization, Islam, and Gender in Indonesia,” American Anthropologist 113, no. 3 (2011): p. 478-490.
Basnur, Busyra. et. al. (eds), Permata dari Surga: Potret Kehidupan Beragama di Indonesia, (Jakarta: Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Islamic State University-Syarif Hidayatullah, 2016): p. iii-iv.
Bradley, Francis R. Forging Islamic Power and Place, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 2016.
Fealy, Greg. and Sally White, eds., Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia Singapore: Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, 2008.
Fealy, Greg and Anthony Bubalo, Joining the Caravan? The Middle East, Islamism, and Indonesia, Sydney: Longueville Press, 2005.
Feener 2019, “Islam in Southeast Asia to c. 1800,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia.
Feener R. Michael and Michael F. Laffan, “Sufi Scents across the Indian Ocean: Yemeni Hagiography and the Earliest History of Southeast Asian Islam,” Archipel 70, no. 1 (January 2005): p. 185-208.
Formichi, Chiara. Islam and Asia: A History, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2020.
Formichi, Chiara. Islam and the Making of Nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in 20th Century Indonesia Leiden: Brill, 2012.
Geertz, Clifford. The Religion of Java, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1976.
Hadler, Jeffrey. Muslims and Matriarchs: Cultural Resilience in Indonesia through Jihad and Colonialism, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2013.
Hefner, Robert W. Civil Islam: Muslims and Democratization in Indonesia, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000, p. 3-36.
Heryanto, Ariel. Identity and Pleasure: The Politics of Indonesian Screen Culture, Singapore: NUS Press, 2014.
Tagliocozzo, Eric. The Longest Journey: Southeast Asians and the Pilgrimage to Mecca, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.
Ho, Engseng. The Graves of Tarim: Genealogy and Mobility Across the Indian Ocean, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2006.
Hoesterey, James Bourk. Rebranding Islam: Piety, Prosperity, and a Self-Help Guru, Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016.
Johns, Anthony H. “Islam in Southeast Asia: Reflections and New Directions,” Indonesia 19 (1975), p. 33-55.
Jones, Carla. “Whose Stress: Emotion Work in Middle Class Javanese Homes,” Ethnos 69, no. 4 (2010): p. 509-528.
Latief, Hilman. “Marketising Piety through Charitable Work: Islamic Charities and the Islamisation of Middle Class Families in Indonesia,” in Religion and the Morality of the Market: Anthropological Perspectives, eds. Filippo Osella and Daromir Rudnyckyj (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017), p. 196-216.
Mandal, Sumit K. Becoming Arab: Creole Histories and Modern Identity in the Malay World, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017.
Muwahidah, Siti Sarah. “For the Love of Ahl al-Bayt: Negotiating Shiʿism in Indonesia,” PhD diss., Emory University 2020.
Mandaville, Peter. and Shadi Hamid, “Islam as Statecraft: How Governments Use Religion in Foreign Policy,” Brookings Institution (November 2018).
Naim, Mochtar. “Merantau: Causes and Effects of Minangkabau Voluntary Migration,” Institute of Southeast Asia Occasional Paper Series no. 5 (May 1971): p. 1-19.
Ong, Aihwa and Stephen J. Collier (eds), Global Assemblages: Technology, Politics, and Ethics as Anthropological Problems, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing, 2005.
Peletz, Michael G. Sharia Transformations: Cultural Politics and the Rebranding of an Islamic Judiciary, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2020.
Ricci, Ronnit. Islam Translated: Literature, Conversion, and the Arabic Cosmopolis of South and Southeast Asia, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2004.
van Bruinessen, Martin. “Origins and Development of the Sufi orders (tarekat) in Southeast Asia. Studia Islamika (Jakarta), 1, no. 1 (1994).

Ricklefs, M.C. Mystic Synthesis in Java: A History of Islamization from the Fourteenth to the Early Nineteenth Centuries, Norwalk, CT: Eastbridge, 2006.
Rudnyckyj, Daromir. “Market Islam in Indonesia,” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 15, no. 1 (2009): p. 182-200.
Sahal, Ahmad and Munawir Aziz, eds., Islam Nusantara: Dari Ushul Fiqh Hingga Paham Kebangsaan [From Fiqh to an Understanding of Nationhood], Jakarta: Mizan Press, 2015.
Schaefer, Saskia. 2021. “Islam Nusantara: The Conceptual Vocabulary of Indonesian Diversity.” Islam Nusantara: Journal for the Study of Islamic History and Culture 2: p. 1-16.
Umar, Nasaruddin. Islam Nusantara: Jalan Panjang Moderasi Beragama di Indonesia [Islam Nusantara: The Long Road of Religious Moderation in Indonesia], Jakarta: Gramedia, 2019.
Tambiah, Stanley J. “The Galactic Polity: The Structure of Traditional Kingdoms in Southeast Asia,” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences 293, no. 1 (July 1977): p. 69-97.
van Bruinessen, Martin. “Indonesian Muslims and their Place in the Larger World of Islam,” in Indonesia Rising: The Repositioning of Asia’s Third Giant (Singapore: Institute for Southeast Asian Studies, 2012): p. 117-40.
Wirajuda, Hassan J. “Seeds of Democracy in Egypt: Sharing is Caring,” Strategic Review 1, no. 1 (2011): p. 147-158.
Wawan Gunawan Abd. Wahid, Muhammad Abdullah Darraz, and Ahmad Fuad Fanani, eds., Fikih Kebinekaan: Pandangan Islam Indonesia tentang Umat, Kewargaan, dan Kepemimpinan Non-Muslim [A Fiqh of Diversity: The Viewpoint of Indonesian Islam about the Muslim umma, Citizenship, and Non-Muslim Leadership], Jakarta: Mizan, 2015.
Wahid, Abdurrahman. “Pribumisasi Islam” in Islam Indonesia Menatap Masa Depan, eds. Muntaha Azhari and Abdul Mun’im Saleh. Jakarta: P3M, 2015.
Woodward, Mark. 2017. ”Islam Nusantara: A Semantic and Symbolic Analysis” Heritage of Islam Nusantara: International Journal of Religious Literature and Heritage 6 (2): p. 181-198.
How to Cite
Hoesterey, J. (2022, July 31). Globalization and Islamic Indigenization in Southeast Asian Muslim Communities. ISLAM NUSANTARA:Journal for the Study of Islamic History and Culture, 3(2), 1-20.