I am an anthropologist of religion and politics who teaches in the Department of International Studies and the Department of Religious Studies. I recently completed a book project examining novel and unexpected ways of being Muslim, where religious dispositions are achieved through techniques that have little or no precedent in classical Islamic texts or concepts. The book is an ethnographic account of Indonesia, where progressive Muslims are behaving impiously and reading humanistic and social scientific books in order to rethink religion, while conservative Islamists are using Western techniques of accounting and self-help to develop religious puritanism. It is partly a story about Indonesia, where the deposal of President Suharto's authoritarian New Order regime in 1998 has opened up the imaginative terrain allowing these types of religious beliefs and practices to emerge. At the same time, I would suggest that the Indonesian case study, which occurs in a heightened and volatile political context, brings into sharper relief processes that are happening in ordinary Muslim life everywhere. To be a practitioner of their religion, Muslims draw on and are inspired by not only their holy scriptures, but also the non-traditional ideas and practices that circulate in their society, which importantly include those that originate in the West. In the contemporary political discourse where Muslims are often portrayed as uncompromising and adversarial to the West and where bans and walls are deemed necessary to keep them out, this story about flexible and creative Muslims is an important one to tell.
- Ph.D., New York University, 2011
- B.A. (First Class Honors), National University of Singapore, 2001
- Anthropology of Islam
- Political anthropology
- Social movements
- Popular culture
- Southeast Asia
- Improvisational Islam: Indonesian Youth in a Time of Possibility. 2018. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
- Accounting for the Soul: Religious Improvisation in Democratic Indonesia. 2018. Anthropological Quarterly. 91(3):1001-1028.
- Everyday Authoritarianism: A Political Anthropology of Singapore. 2018. Critical Asian Studies. 50(2):219-231.
- Homophobic Muslims: Emerging Trends in Multireligious Singapore. 2016.
- Comparative Studies in Society and History. 58(4):955-981. Muslim Organizations and Mosques as Social Services Providers. Co-written with Enon Mansor. In Lai Ah Eng (ed.). 2008.
- Religious Diversity in Singapore. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies Publishing. Pp. 459-488.
Blogs and Reviews
- The Law and Religious Intolerance in Indonesia. 2019. Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University.
- Review of Tom Pepinsky, Bill Liddle, and Saiful Mujani’s “Piety and Public Opinion: Understanding Indonesian Islam.” 2018.
- Reading Religion (a publication of the American Academy of Religion). http://readingreligion.org/books/piety-and-public-opinion.
- Questioning the New Secularism of the West: A commentary on Elizabeth Hurd’s “Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion.” 2017. Journal of Politics, Religion and Ideology. 18(1):107-109.
- The Problem with the “Moderate Muslim” Label. 2015. Spring Forum, Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society, Indiana University.
- Trustees Teaching Award, Indiana University, 2017
- New Frontiers Experimentation Fellowship, Indiana University, 2017
- Academy Scholar, Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Harvard University, 2011
- Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship, New York University, 2010
- Dissertation Fieldwork Grant, Wenner Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, 2008
- International Dissertation Research Fellowship, Social Science Research Council, 2008
- Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant, National Science Foundation, 2008
- Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Predoctoral Fellowship, New York University, 2007
- Annette Weiner Predoctoral Fellowship, New York University, 2007
- Henry M. MacCracken Fellowship, New York University, 2004-2008
- Vice Chancellor’s List, National University of Singapore, 2001
- Dean’s List, National University of Singapore, 1998-2001
Courses Recently Taught
- INTL-I 206 Identity and Conflict
- INTL-I 306 Neoliberalism in Crisis
- INTL-I 422 Youth and Politics
- REL-A 270 Introduction to Islam
- REL-C 350 Islam in America
- REL-D 485 Religion and Media