This project developed from 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) that generated an anthropological account of Indonesian Muslims’ religious life as it is embedded in the everyday uses of social media and communication technologies. “Social Media and Islamic Practice” focuses on the consequences of these developments in the field of religion in Indonesia. It is particularly concerned with Muslims’ uses of social media to position themselves within the field of Indonesian Islam and to imagine their place within the broader Islamic world. The project understands social media as a contested space where different ideologies and visions, informed by offline geographies and geopolitics, can collide. It puts emphasis on the visual representation of piety and examines how class positions, gender orders and multiple possibilities of being public and private are reflected in these online expressions. Moreover, the project discusses a variety of social media practices that mirror a digital divide among Indonesian Muslims, and asks whether today’s extensive religious uses of social media reinforce class differences among Indonesian Muslims, and thus a kind of Islamic digital divide, or whether one can also spot trends that point in the opposite direction. The projects also examines the consequences that the uses of social media have for Islamic charities in Indonesia. It is interested in how these charities use social media to document their activities and to raise funds, and how the discourse of almsgiving has changed. Reflecting on the temporal logic of acceleration that increasingly informs the field of social welfare in Indonesia today, it analyses the role of social media in carrying out a quick, unbureaucratic conversion of donations into concrete help as well as notions of immediate material and spiritual return that inform the practice of donors. Furthermore, the project engages with analytical challenges that concern the categorization of Indonesian Muslims in scholarly as well as public discourses. It seeks to question established categories and the ways they have been used so far in light of the growing popularity of Islamic socialities that have a strong online component and that display a remarkable ideological diversity.


Martin Slama