Modern Muslim Identities

Modern Muslim Identities : Negotiating Religion and Ethnicity in Malaysia

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This book explores the relationship between the Malaysian state and its citizens in creating and maintaining fixed identities. It focuses on new modalities of being Muslim in a modern world. It develops the concept of 'Islamicity' to make sense of contemporary modern Islamic religiosity that is applicable to a range of modernizing Muslim countries. This book explores a central tension in identity politics - how the state, civil society and people in general may want to create and maintain cultural, religious and social cohesion but paradoxically their practices in everyday life often run counter to this. Malaysia is no exception. Here, a political elite maintains a hegemonic system of control and cultural dominance but must juggle political pressure from Islamic and Malay supremacists on the one hand and moderate civil society groups on the other. The result is a complex interplay of domination, accommodation and negotiation between the state and its citizens.
At the heart of the study is the conjuncture between Malay ethnicity and Islamic faith, hence an examination of the state discourse on 'civilizational Islam', but other areas are also examined, including the arts as a contested space where artists and the state vie to shape the nation's imagination. At the theoretical level, this book is part of a greater narrative about identity politics. It seeks to reach broader understanding of what Heidegger calls being-in-the-world, or the way we relate to other people and places around us. Thus, this book brings a variety of philosophical theory, anthropological insights and social theory together to present an interesting, in-depth ethnographic exploration of contemporary Malay Muslim identity politics.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 152 x 226 x 16mm | 439.98g
  • NIAS Press
  • Copenhagen, Denmark
  • English
  • 8776940810
  • 9788776940812
  • 651,979

Table of contents

Preface and Acknowledgments; 1. Identity formation and its articulation; 2. Malayness and Islam; 3. Ordered spaces: Naming places and defining boundaries; 4. Engineering Muslim Malay identities; 5. Other Malays and Malaysia(n)s: Resistance and change; 6. Islamicity: Experiencing the divine light; 7. Between a cosmopolitan ethic and politicide of its people; 8. Conclusion; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.
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About Gerhard Hoffstaedter

Gerhard Hoffstaedter is a research fellow at La Trobe University's Institute for Human Security, working on development and security issues as well as on religion and the state.
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Review quote

'This important study sheds new light on changing Muslim identities in contemporary Malaysia, questioning existing distinctions between state and civil society, religion and secularism and ethnicity and religion and calling for new ways of understanding processes of Islamisation in the modern world.' - Joel S. Kahn, La Trobe University 'It is simply a first-class piece of work, one of real intellectual distinction and substantive originality. It offers an important commentary on the current Malaysian situation, and how it has been sedulously fashioned over recent history, and so makes a significant contribution to Malaysian studies.' - Clive Kessler, University of New South Wales 'This marks an original and very timely contribution to Malaysian studies. Hoffstaedter has demonstrated the profound effects of state religious policies and ideologies upon the everyday identities of practicing Muslims. He does this with great ethnographic nuance and original theoretical insights.' - Andrew Willford, Cornell University 'Gerhard Hoffstaedter presents a thought provoking case study on the many social and political forces that have interacted to push Malay identity along an exclusive trajectory. - This is a dangerous pattern, unfortunately discernable also in other parts of the Muslim world.' - Shahram Akbarzadeh, University of Melbourne
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