Unique insights into the cultural politics of Muslim and Chinese identity in Southeast Asia today.
Many recent works on Muslim societies have pointed to a growing ‘de-culturalization’ and ‘purification’ of Islamic practices. Instead, by exploring themes such as architectural designs, preaching activities, political engagement and cultural celebrations, this book describes and analyses the formation and negotiation of Chinese Muslim cultural identities in Indonesia today — a rapidly evolving environment where there are multiple ways of being or not being Chinese and Muslim.
By engaging with the notions of ‘inclusive Chineseness’ and ‘cosmopolitan Islam’, this book gives insights not only into the cultural politics of Muslim and Chinese identities in Indonesia today but also into the possibilities and limitations of ethnic and religious cosmopolitanism in many other contemporary societies.
“For much of modern Indonesian history, the social categories of Muslim and Chinese were seen as incompatible; to convert to Islam was to lose one’s Chineseness. This engagingly written book provides a powerful ethnographic account of just why this is changing, and of what it means to be both Chinese and Muslim in Indonesia. This fascinating study also offers insight into processes even more general in our world: how we moderns balance multiple self-identities in an age of plurality and unprecedented mobility.” – Robert W. Hefner, Boston University
“Hew’s Chinese Ways of Being Muslim blows apart the usual identifications between ethnicity and religion in Indonesia. This pathbreaking book paints an intriguing portrait of how Chinese Muslims in Indonesia are charting a form of Islamic piety that is both assertive and inclusive. A first.” – Engseng Ho, Duke University
“In this adroit analysis of Chinese ways of being Muslim in Indonesia – from celebrity preachers and hybrid mosques to Chinese holidays and conversion controversies – Hew Wai Weng sheds important light on the religious and political entanglements between Islam, ethnicity, and nation. In doing so, this book admirably fills a lamentable lacuna of scholarship on Chinese Muslims in post-authoritarian Indonesia.” – James B. Hoesterey, Emory University
About the author: Hew Wai Weng is a Fellow at the Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (IKMAS, UKM), working on Chinese Muslim identities, Hui migration patterns, and urban middle-class Muslim aspirations in Malaysia and Indonesia.