Book explores Sunni, Shi’a Muslims’ devotion in SE Asia

December 9, 2015

Chiara Formichi, assistant professor of Asian studies, is celebrating the release of her new book, “Shi’ism in South East Asia” (Hurst & Co./Oxford University Press; co-edited with R. Michael Feener, 2015).

This edited volume is the first book available in any language that approaches Sunni and Shi’a Muslims’ devotion in Southeast Asia as forms of ‘Alid piety, discussing their modern contestations in the region. Using early manuscripts from the Muslim vernacular literatures and local ritual practices, contributors to the volume reveal how ‘Alid piety has been transformed in relation to more strictly sectarian identifications since the Iranian revolution in 1979.

Formichi's academic interests cover the contested role of Islam in politics in the Dutch Indies/Indonesia's late colonial era, current problems related to sectarianism and orthodoxy in Muslim Southeast Asia, and more broadly the question of religious diversity and pluralism in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. A recurrent thread in her research are transnational flows of ideas (secular and religious like), the intersection between foreign and localized religious practices and understandings, and the impact that the politicization and institutionalization of religion has on Asia's societies.

Her other works include the monograph Islam and the Making of the Nation: Kartosuwiryo and Political Islam in the 20th Century Indonesia (2012), and the edited book Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia (2013).

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