History

Voices of Islam in Southeast Asia: A Contemporary Source Book

Greg Fealy and Virginia Hooker, eds., Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asia Studies, 2006. 596 pages.

Voices of Islam in Southeast Asia is partly the outcome of a trend in the scholarship on Southeast Asian Islam that has gained momentum from the mid-1980s onwards: namely, a corrective of the tendency to regard Islam as a “thin veneer” (as the Dutch historian van Leur had described it) over much older and supposedly more profound cultural deposits from the Indian subcontinent. The tremendous influence of the late Clifford Geertz’s characterizations in his The Religion of Java (University of Chicago Press: 1976 [new ed.]) only seemed to confirm this. However, a younger generation of American anthropologists, among them John Bowen, Robert Hefner, and Mark Woodward, explicitly challenged that view when they began publishing their findings in the 1980s. These writings showed that there was a vibrant and truly “Islamic” cultural legacy in Indonesia and elsewhere.

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