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Islam and local traditions in tense relationships: the role of ancestors in shaping the political future of Indonesia

Research project
Avslutad forskning
Project period
2013 - 2017
Project owner
School of Global Studies

Financier
Swedish Research Council

Short description

This project investigates why and how tradition (adat) has become an influential idiom in building new constituencies in Indonesia.

Background and research aims

Indonesia is today going through a turbulent time of political transition. Although existing in a tense relationship with two of the most influential political forces in Indonesia – Islam and democracy movements - tradition (adat) has become an influential idiom in building new constituencies. This project investigates why and how this movement has taken on such popularity.

Previous research has explained the revival of traditions as a consequence of political and historical circumstances. The relevance of this project lies in the ambition of moving beyond these explanations and into the world view where it becomes logical and rational to turn to ancestors as a way of strengthening political projects and to gain help in crisis. To reach into the nature of these orders, ritual practices of trance and possessions will be used as a methodological point of departure. Interviews with mediums and participants as well as ancestors will be conducted. The interviews will be complemented with participant observation, building on long standing networks of informants in the region.