SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Entrepreneurs of Religion & Religious Entrepreneurs: The Emergence of an Islamic Moral Economy in Indonesia

Gwenaël Njoto-Feillard
Gwenaƫl Njoto-Feillard (Current SOAS Centenary Visiting Fellow, CSEAS)

Date: 18 February 2014Time: 5:15 PM

Finishes: 18 February 2014Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


Like other regions of the world, Southeast Asia has been experiencing a process defined as “religious commodification”, akin to the advent of a “new spirit of capitalism”. In Indonesia, this phenomenon has taken a firm rooting and has been expressed in the most diverse ways. A new generation of charismatic preachers is promoting a form of “pious materialism” (R. Wuthnow) to those in search of meaning in the context of a more and more westernized modern urban life. Intriguingly, the formulation of this “Islamic spirit of capitalism” is taking place through a peculiar interaction with Neo-Protestantism’s prosperity theology. The presentation will link the genesis, dogma and praxis of this current of thought to the prosperity theology of charismatic churches, the “Mind Power” motivational authors, self-help groups and “New Religious Movements”. It will analyze in detail how tensions between wealth and material restraint, or again individualism and collectivism, are ideologically and structurally negotiated, thus creating a “moral economy” (E.P. Thompson) in this important part of the Muslim world.

Speaker Biography

Gwenaël NJOTO-FEILLARD holds a Ph.D. in political science (2010) from the Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po) and the Centre for International Research and Studies (CERI). His dissertation has been published in 2012 by the Institute for the Study of Islam and Muslim Societies (IISMM, EHESS) under the title : “L’islam et la réinvention du capitalisme en Indonésie” (Islam and the reinvention of capitalism in Indonesia).

He is the current SOAS Centenary Visiting Fellow for the Centre of South East Asian Studies. He is also currently a research associate at the Centre for South-East Asia, French National Research Centre (CASE–CNRS, UMR 8170), where he is pursuing his research on religious commodification in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. He is also part of the LOTWOR research group (“Local Traditions and World Religions: The Appropriation of ‘Religion’ in Southeast Asia and Beyond“), a collaboration between the CASE-CNRS and the Institute of Anthropology of Heidelberg University, Germany. In March 2014, he will be commencing a one-year visiting fellowship at the ISEAS in Singapore.

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