Localizing strangers: Arab Identity in contemporary Southeast Asia


Single Panel


Session 4
Tue 16:30-18:00 REC A1.04



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This panel intends to discuss the intricate reconfiguration of identity articulation within the Hadhrami-Arab communities and their relations with the host population in Southeast Asia. Known as the Indian Ocean diaspora from homeland Hadhramawt, the present day of Yemen, this panel departs from the premise: the salience of the Arab identity, which has been juxtaposed with Islam, in recent Southeast Asian Muslims. The topics are centered on religion, language, and ethnicity within the localized socio-political contexts after the new structure of the nation-states. This focuses on understanding how the different trajectories of locality influence and shape the different outcomes and patterns of Arabs’ relations with the wider local populations in the region

The panel inquires contributors to critically analyze the impact of the local setting on the societal identity, as well as the manifestation of Arab cultural elements in Southeast Asia. The panelists are directed to evaluate the potential outcomes of the interplay between the local setting and Arab identity, namely in terms of generating a novel cultural or identity construct (localizing) or engaging in a process of contestation that reinforces a particular identity (contesting). The observers could interpret the consequences of this interaction from multiple vantage points, encompassing 1) Collective identity; 2) Arabic manuscripts; 3) Utilization of Arabic daily language; 4) Another related cultural products; and 5) Gender Perspective on identity change. In order to increase the diversity of viewpoints, particularly with regard to gender, we also strongly encourage female scholars to participate in this panel.

The initial study will examine the impact of local languages and interactions with transnational activities, particularly contacts with Middle Eastern nations, on the linguistic changes observed in Arabic among Arab ancestry communities in Jakarta and Surakarta. The second study examines the interplay of transnationalism, democracy, and kinship in fostering the resurgence of the traditional identity of the Ba-‘Alawi tribe in Indonesia. The third study will examine the interplay between the state building process and Ba-‘Alawi identity in Singapore. And the fourth paper will examine the process of localized expression of Islam through textual interpretation in West Java, Indonesia