Islamic Populism

HadizIslamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East is a new book published by Cambridge University Press and authored by Vedi R. Hadiz of Melbourne University’s Asia Institute.

Islamic Populism in Indonesia and the Middle East (DOI: 10.1080/00472336.2016.1205648) is reviewed for JCA by noted political scientist Edward Aspinall.

Aspinall suggests that Hadiz challenges usual notions about the pedigree of those who study Islamic politics. The standard presentation is that Islamic politics can only be completed with “specialist knowledge of Islamic theology and discourse.” In contrast, describing Islamic Populism as “challenging and original,” Aspinall suggests that “Hadiz demonstrates that one can bring insights garnered from general theories in the fields of political economy and political sociology to throw new light on Islamic politics.”

Hadiz’s comparative perspective is considered useful and revealing: “Hadiz demonstrates that much can be learned from comparing Islamic politics in Indonesia with other important majority-Muslim countries.”

Aspinall concludes:

Overall, this is a bold book with a sometimes startlingly broad scope and a highly original approach. Though it is sure to encounter criticisms from those who would wish for more careful analysis of the ideational aspects of Islamic politics, it deserves careful reading by scholars who want to understand Islamic politics in Indonesia, especially by understanding its place in the wider Islamic world. The comparison of Islamic and secular populists, in particular, is a fruitful line of analysis that opens up many new opportunities for comparison that even Hadiz does not yet fully explore in his book.


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