The Diffusion of Islamic Laws Across Indonesia

The Diffusion of Islamic Laws Across Indonesia

Wednesday, 18 February 2015 - 2:00pm to 3:30pm
Deakin Room, Founder's Building, St Antony's College
Michael Buehler (SOAS)
Matthew Walton
Southeast Asia Seminar

Since the collapse of the authoritarian New Order regime in 1998, hundreds of Islamic laws have been adopted across Indonesia. Over the past years, scholars have examined both the causes and the consequences of these shari'a laws. Yet, existing research has yet to explain why and how these shari'a laws have actually spread across the country. For instance, why have some shari'a laws been adopted in many provinces and districts, while other shari'a laws can be found in a small number of provinces and districts only. Why is the diffusion of certain shari'a laws triggered by national political dynamics while other shari'a laws diffuse through local channels? Who are the political players that facilitate the spread of Islamic law from one locality to another?

Based on several years of fieldwork in Indonesia, Michael Buehler's talk will examine the concrete mechanisms through which Islamic law has spread across the largest Muslim country in the world and draw parallels to other countries, including the diffusion of morality policies across the United States in recent decades.


Michael Buehler is a Lecturer in Comparative Politics in the Department of Politics and International Studies, SOAS, University of London. Specializing in Southeast Asian politics, his teaching and research interests evolve around state-society relations under conditions of democratization and decentralization.

Previously he taught at Columbia University and Northern Illinois University. He has also held research fellowships at the Center for Equality Development and Globalization Studies at Northwestern University in Chicago, the Weatherhead East Asian Institute in New York City, and the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies in Leiden. Michael Buehler has been an Associate Research Fellow at the Asia Society in New York City since 2011.


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