INDONESIA STUDY GROUP – Neither Insider nor Outsider: Crossing Boundaries in the Study of Religious Minorities in Indonesia by Dr Ahmad Najib Burhani
Date : 24 Aug 2017
Time : 16:00 - 17:30
Venue : Asia Research Institute, Seminar Room
AS8 Level 4, 10 Kent Ridge Crescent, Singapore 119260
National University of Singapore @ KRC


Dr Amelia Fauzia, Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore


Who is more authoritative in researching certain religious minorities, insider or outsider? How to apply the concept of ‘detachment’, ‘neutrality’, and ‘bracketing’ in studying religious groups officially declared by majority of ulama and mainstream religious organizations as deviant cults like Ahmadiyah and Lia Eden? And how would the various concepts, methods, and scientific theories, such as ‘going native’ and ‘participant observation’ be applied in the field? How to negotiate between faith and science, our identity as part of religious mainstream and orthodox group in studying communities deemed ‘heretic’? How does our identity as a non-Ahmadi affect our research and judgment about Ahmadiyah? This paper intends to discuss the author’s experience in studying Ahmadiyah, in applying various theories and academic principles in the study of this community, and how to behave towards individual conflicts and controversies surrounding Ahmadiyah issues. This paper is based on seven-year experience of living with, studying, and participating in the activities of Ahmadiyah in Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, India, England, and the United States.


Ahmad Najib Burhani is senior researcher at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Jakarta and visiting fellow at ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute, Singapore. He received his PhD in Religious Studies from the University of California-Santa Barbara, USA. During the last year of his study, he won the Professor Charles Wendell Memorial Award from UCSB for the academic achievement in the field of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. His academic interests include religious minorities in Islam, urban mysticism, and religious movements in Southeast Asia.


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