SOAS University of London

Centre of South East Asian Studies

Dakwah at the cinema: Identifying Indonesia's 'Islamic' Film as a genre

Alicia Izharuddin
Alicia Izharuddin (Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS)

Date: 19 February 2013Time: 5:45 PM

Finishes: 19 February 2013Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Brunei Gallery Room: B102

Type of Event: Seminar


Films with Islamic themes became de rigueur in post-1998 Indonesia and particularly after the success of the pro-polygamy film Ayat-ayat Cinta (Verses of Love) in 2008. Many of such films are noted to be more than just fodder for entertainment and profit but a soapbox for film-makers. Since Ayat-ayat Cinta, films about religious pluralism, terrorism, and female emancipation have become part of the circuit of intense debates about the freedoms of artistic and religious expression in Indonesia. This talk examines the characteristics of the genre, its political and economic context and its transcoded themes. It will also discuss the role of dakwah or Islamic preaching in popular culture. Although an important concept in the making and promotion of 'Islamic' films in Indonesia, dakwah appears subordinate to the poetics of the local cinematic marketplace and 'pop Islam'. On a much broader level, the talk will contribute to debates about what is considered sacred and the profane, worship and entertainment, and the meaning of 'religion' itself.

Speaker Biography

Alicia Izharuddin is a final year PhD candidate at the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS. She is also an opinion writer and public speaker on identity politics and culture in Malaysia. Aside from her doctoral research on Islam in Indonesian cinema, she is interested in the development of gender and queer theory and feminist activism in Malaysia.

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