- Post-colonial Indonesia
- Islam in Southeast Asia
- Southeast Asian political history
My research looks broadly at the history of Islam in Southeast Asia, especially modern Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation.
My first book is a study of the role of Islam in the Indonesian revolution (1945-49), exposing particularly the different understandings held respectively at the elite and grassroots levels. For this work, I conducted well over one hundred oral history interviews across Indonesia, as well as researching in the national archives, private collections, and libraries around the world. I argue that many Muslims fighting for independence saw Islam as both their motivation to enter the fight and as an ideology to guide the future state. At the same time, changes within the leadership of Islamic politics during these years brought a different vision of Islam to the fore and set precedents that continue to influence politics until today.
Recent articles include a study of language change and how it has impacted the Muslim community in Southeast Asia, an argument for Islam as a key influence on Indonesia’s foreign policy in the 1940s, an intellectual genealogy of Indonesian Islamic Socialism, and an analysis of the cult of veneration around an Indonesian Muslim saint. I am also active in translation from Indonesian to English, and producing digital outputs, such as the original online database of Indonesian parliamentarians at www.konstituante.net.
My next book is on Indonesian religious associational life. During sabbatical in 2016-17, I researched three organizations—Nahdlatul Wathan on Lombok, Alkhairaat in Palu, and Jamiyatul Washliyah in Medan—that each claim millions of followers, hundreds of schools, and an important role in local politics, but no comprehensive studies have introduced the groups. Fascinatingly, these organizations evolved in parallel, from schools in the 1930s to networks in the 1940s and formal organizations in the 1950s, etc., but totally independent of one another. So, by studying their development over the last century, I hope also to reveal some of the structural factors impacting religious life in Indonesia in the modern era.
In my research, I work closely with the State Islamic University network, especially the Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University in Jakarta and the Pusat Pengkajian Islam dan Masyarakat. Other partners include Islamic organizations throughout the archipelago, Universitas Indonesia, and the Universitas Negeri-Padang.
Indonesia’s Islamic Revolution (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019).
“Indonesian Islamic socialism and its South Asian roots,” Modern Asian Studies 53, 6 (Nov 2019): 1736-1761.
“Making an Indonesian National Hero for Lombok: The Shifting Category of Pahlawan Nasional,” Indonesia and the Malay World 46, 137 (Mar 2019): 1-22.
“Reinforcing Charisma in the Bureaucratization of Indonesian Islamic Organizations,” Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, special issue on “Bureaucratization of Islam in Southeast Asia,” 37, 1 (May 2018): 117-140.
“Decolonization and Religion: Islamic Arguments for Indonesian Independence,” Leidschrift 31, 3 (Oct 2016): 109-124.
“Islam in Indonesia’s Foreign Policy, 1945-1949,” Al-Jāmi‘ah: Journal of Islamic Studies 53, 2 (2015): 303-336.
“Evaluating the PRRI Rebellion as a West Sumatran Peasant Movement,” Tingkap 11, 2 (2015): 160-174.
“The Standardisation of the Indonesian Language and Its Consequences for Islamic Communities,” Journal of Southeast Asian Studies 46, 1 (Feb 2015): 86-110.
“Seeking Arabs but Looking at Indonesians: Snouck Hurgronje’s Arab Lens on the Dutch East Indies,” Journal of Islamic and Middle East Studies (in Asia) 8, 1 (Mar 2014): 51-73.
“The Missing Minister of Religion and the PSII: A Contextual Biography of K.H. Ahmad Azhary,” Studia Islamika 20, 1 (2013): 35-57.
(with Muhammad Saleh Ending) “One Islamic Community, Two Rival Sisters,” Inside Indonesia 103 (Jan 2011).
(co-edited with Frank Dhont and Mason C. Hoadley) Towards an Inclusive Democratic Indonesian Society: Bridging the Gap between State Uniformity and Multicultural Identity Patterns (Yogyakarta: Atma Jaya University Press, 2009).
“Defining and Regulating Religion in Early Independent Indonesia,” in Jaclyn Neo, Daniel P.S. Goh and Arif A. Jamal, eds., Regulating Religion in Asia: Norms, Modes and Challenges (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2019).
“A.A. Navis: The Man and His Work,” in A.A. Navis, To the Contrary, trans. Kevin W. Fogg and Matthew G.B. Woolgar (Jakarta: Lontar, 2019).
“State and Islamic Education Growing into Each Other in Indonesia” in Pia Jolliffe and Thomas Bruce, eds., Southeast Asian Schools in Modern History: Education, Manipulation, and Contest (London: Routledge, 2019).
“News of Independence Spreads,” “Muslims Embrace the Revolution,” and “Shaping Indonesia and Its Government,” in David P. Chandler, Robert Cribb and Li Narangoa, eds., End of Empire: 100 Days in 1945 that Changed Asia and the World (Copenhagen: NIAS Press, 2016).
“Pancasila as an Idea, not an Icon: Masyumi and the State Ideology,” in Kevin Ko and Thomas Conners, eds., Pancasila’s Contemporary Appeal: Re-legitimizing Indonesia’s Founding Ethos (Yogyakarta, Indonesia: Sanata Dharma University Press, 2010).
(co-translator with Matthew G.B. Woolgar) To the Contrary, by A.A. Navis (Jakarta: Lontar, 2019).
(translator and editor) “The Influence of Muhammad Abduh in Indonesia: Speech given by Hamka (Haji Abdul Malik Karim Amrullah) when receiving a doctorate Honoris Causa from al-Azhar University, Cairo,” Afkaruna: Indonesian Interdisciplinary Journal of Islamic Studies 11, 2 (Dec 2015): 125-156.
Current DPhil Students
I would be like to hear from potential DPhil students regarding Modern Southeast Asian history or history of Islamic societies and any Masters students in Global & Imperial History
I currently teach:
|Approaches to History - Sociology
General History XIV
History of Islamic Societies, 1700-present
||General History XIX
||Further Subject 24: Imperialism and Nationalism in Southeast Asia