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The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past (Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics) Hardcover – August 28, 2011

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Product Details

  • Series: Princeton Studies in Muslim Politics
  • Hardcover: 328 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton University Press (August 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 069114530X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0691145303
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #679,607 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"This well-written, deeply erudite history by Princeton historian Laffan, a prominent scholar of Islam in Southeast Asia, explores the development of Islamic learning in the islands of what is now Indonesia as well as how the faith came to be understood and explained by Dutch scholars during the colonial period. As such, the book offers a compelling parallel history of Indonesia, setting up an engaging new narrative separate from the one most commonly presented, wherein the imposition of colonial rule and later emergence of nationalist consciousness follows a more secular path. . . . The analysis of this intellectual life, along with the thorough understanding of local religious authorities' deeply felt faith, offers a new vision of Indonesian lives under colonial rule."--Choice

"With its meticulous scholarship and its wealth of insights into European and Indonesian Muslim understandings of Islam, however, there can be no doubt that this is a path-breaking study. It is a book that should be welcomed and read by all scholars of Islam and all specialists of Indonesia."--Robert W. Hefner, Indonesia

"The Makings of Indonesian Islam is an impressive and important scholarly contribution that provides a wealth of information and critical perspectives to scholars and students alike. A glossary, index, and eleven figures (including maps and photographs) enrich the text and are helpful resources for the reader. As an ethnomusicologist with research interests in Javanese arts and culture, I very much look forward to using this book in my own research projects and rereading this book with students in advanced seminars."--Christina Sunardi, American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences

"This book offers an original reflection on the factors that have contributed to the faces of Islam in Indonesia today. It is fascinating, and brilliant in the lines of argument and interplay of themes that it develops, and despite the liveliness, at times playfulness of style, is dense and closely argued in its texture. . . . [T]his is a wonderful book."--Anthony H. Johns, Journal of Southeast Asian Studies

"Lafffan's very rich account . . . [is] an original and richly detailed contribution to writing the history of an Indonesian Islam."--Carool Kersten, Journal of the Humanities and Social Sciences of Southeast Asia and Oceania

"Laffan displays great erudition throughout the volume. . . . The overriding impression left with the reader is that Laffan is right on top of all the relevant literature as well as diverse disciplines: history, theology, and mysticism in both Indonesia and the Arab world. This study will provide a benchmark for future scholarship for some time to come, and deservedly so."--Peter G. Riddell, Journal of Islamic Studies

"Michael F. Laffan has written a dense, very informative and very inspiring book that should be required reading for anyone who wants to deal with Islam in Indonesia and the Netherlands Orientalism."--Stephan Conermann, Sehepunkte

From the Inside Flap

"This book is a major contribution to our understanding of Indonesian Islam. Laffan's methodical and exhaustive research provides us with a well of information and insights that will be mined by scholars and students for years to come. The Makings of Indonesian Islam establishes a new benchmark for scholarship on the subject."--Barbara Watson Andaya, coauthor of A History of Malaysia

"The Makings of Indonesian Islam is the best available overview of Islam in the Netherlands East Indies. Laffan offers an original and exciting way of studying the subject."--Nico Kaptein, coeditor of Transcending Borders: Arabs, Politics, Trade, and Islam in Southeast Asia

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Prof. Dr. Karel Steenbrink on October 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
According to my memory Ben Boland once wrote that there is no big theory, even not e true general history of Islam in Indonesia, written by a Dutch scholar. Commenting on a book by G.F. Pijper he once wrote that the only result we have to present the scholarly community is Fragmenta Islamic. I could not find the original place of the quote, but I several though about this remark when reading a very important new book by Michael Laffan, The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past (Princeton University Press, 2011, 301 pages).

The book wants to give two broad histories: 1) a history of Indonesian Islam according to the many written sources consulted by Laffan; 2) a history and critique of Western studies of Indonesian Islam. the book is not about independent Indonesia and not about Indonesian scholars (no Taufiq Abdullah, Deliar Noer, Alfian). It ends with the Dutch scholars of the 1930s, G.F. Pijper and Schrieke. It only has a few remarks about post/1945 giants like Clifford Geertz, not much about Anthony Johns and Merle Ricklefs who both in a very different way supported the thesis of a mystic character of the Islamic past of Indonesia. It is not a book for the beginning student of Islam in Indonesia. It is a long essay on many scholars, officials, missionaries who wrote about Islam and, of course, writes at length about the towering figure of Snouck Hurgronje. I have to admit that I found it very difficult to read: it is a very ideological or abstract theoretical discussion of rather down to earth and sober writing Dutch scholars who did not like too much theoretical discourse. Therefore it seems quite often very generalizing. From time to time, however, he has keen information about concrete facts as well. On p.
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