This project builds on a long scholarly engagement with the Hadhrami diaspora in Indonesia that has also resulted in the habilitation thesis of the project leader (see CV) as well as on the Austrian Science Fund project “Islamic (Inter)Faces of the Internet: Emerging Socialities and Forms of Piety in Indonesia” (FWF P26645-G22; 1.6.2014-31.12.2018). The project attempts to locate Hadhrami models of Islamic authority within a changing landscape of Islamic proselytization in Indonesia that is highly informed by the utilization of a variety of media. It asks how Hadhrami models have become adapted to these developments and to which extent Hadhrami preachers had to reposition themselves to secure their place in Indonesia’s increasingly diverse Islamic field. The project is particularly interested in Hadhrami preachers who regularly use social media in order to be able to compete with a growing number of celebrity preachers that emphasize media-savviness over classic Islamic education and noble trans-regional genealogies that Hadhrami preachers possess. In this climate of competition, the project is concerned with the role of Hadhramis’ diasporic identity in constructing authority, not only in Indonesia’s religious, but also in its political field, in which Indonesians of Hadhrami descent occupy leading positions. It asks in which circumstances and constellations diasporic identity is emphasized, downplayed or omitted, and when religious and political authority is combined, disentangled or kept apart from the beginning. Furthermore, the project examines a particular religious orientation of parts of the Hadhrami population in Indonesia, namely of those who are active in Islamic reformist movements. It aims at tracing the specific trajectory of a reformist ideology among Indonesian Hadhramis, and asks to what extent their notion of reform differs, for example, from the ones advocated by reform movements of the Javanese Muslim majority population. In this respect, it focuses on how intra-diasporic relations and relations to the homeland change with the advent of reformist thought.

Project leader:
Martin Slama