Productive Intolerance: Godly Nationalism in Indonesia - A faculty lunch talk by Jeremy Menchik

12:30 pm on Thursday, March 6, 2014
1:50 pm on Thursday, March 6, 2014
Eilts Room, Department of International Relations, Boston University, 154 Bay State Road (2nd floor)
Since democratization, Indonesia has played host to a curious form of ethnic conflict: militant vigilante groups attacking a small, socially marginal religious sect called Ahmadiyah. While most scholars attribute the violence to intolerance by radicals on the periphery of society, this article proposes a different reading based on an intertwined reconfiguration of Indonesian nationalism and religion. I suggest that Indonesia contains a common but overlooked example of “godly nationalism.” This model for nationalism is modern, plural, and predicated on theological rather than geographic or religious exclusion. Newly collected archival and ethnographic material demonstrates that the state’s and Islamic civil society’s long-standing exclusion of the heterodox Ahmadiyah has helped produce the “we-feeling” that helps constitute contemporary Indonesian nationalism. I conclude by intervening in a recent debate about religious freedom to suggest that conflicts over blasphemy reflect Muslim civil society’s effort to delineate an incipient model of nationalism and tolerance. || Jeremy Menchik is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of International Relations. This presentation is based on a forthcoming article in the journal Comparative Studies in Society and History. His dissertation, “Tolerance Without Liberalism: Islamic Institutions and Political Violence in Twentieth Century Indonesia” recently received an Honorable Mention for the 2013 Aaron Wildavsky Award for the best dissertation on religion and politics. RSVP to by 3/4/14 if you plan to attend.