Religious Authority and Local Governance in Eastern Indonesia – An Abode of Islam

March 30, 2016
11:00 AM - 12:00 PM
UVic, Sedgewick B125

The Centre for Studies in Religion and Society and the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives are pleased to co-host a Coffee Talk event with Dr. Jeremy Kingsley (National University of Singapore).


Governance is not simply a matter of statecraft nor societal norms, but a complicated and wide array of social practices and structures. In this paper I argue that it is necessary to see governance as a nuanced concept that needs to be read as a combination of institutions, rules and actors often constituted within a set of dynamic social, religious and political processes. In short, governance is a matter of law and lore intertwined. This lecture discusses my forthcoming book that investigates the world’s largest Muslim-majority state, Indonesia, and its local governance landscape. By providing a detailed account of local communities and religious authority on the eastern Indonesian island of Lombok I argue for a fabric of governance that intertwines a series of complex socio-political arrangements on the island. This lecture will interrogate Lombok’s carefully woven fabric of governance through an ethnographic study of an Islamic boarding school, Darul Falah, and the community surrounding it. Through this nuanced lens of inquiry, with a careful eye to the historical trajectories on this island, I am able to examine the political and religious forces that are guiding social regulation and political affairs.

The fabric of governance considered here illuminates the interaction of state and non-state actors and institutions. Pivotal to this analysis is reviewing the activities and influence of local Muslim religious leaders (Tuan Guru) who are the foundation of much of the communal relationships and patterns of life on Lombok. The standing of Tuan Guru and their organizational reach has long been critical to local governance on the island. These findings also speak more generally to the realities of local governance across Indonesia where there are tightly woven interactions between religious, communal and state leaders and institutions.

About Dr. Jeremy Kinglsey

Senior Research Fellow
National University of Singapore

Dr Jeremy Kingsley is a legal scholar and anthropologist. Jeremy received his LLM and PhD degrees in Law from the University of Melbourne and completed his BA and LLB studying at Deakin University. His research focuses primarily upon religious, legal and political authority in Indonesia and how this affects local governance. He is now looking at these notions of authority and the interconnections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East. This research has been published in academic and public affairs journals. Jeremy has completed a two-year Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at the Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore (NUS), as well as having lectured at Tembusu College, also at NUS. Jeremy has undertaken extensive field research on the eastern Indonesian island of Lombok as well as more recently in Morocco and the United Arab Emirates. Jeremy is currently finalizing a research project: “Islam (Re)Observed – Geertz Caught in the Act of Comparison” at the Middle East Institute (MEI), NUS. In recent months, Jeremy has commenced a major new research project, also at MEI, which is called: “Transnational Corporate Lawyers in Southeast Asia and the Middle East – Administrators of Globalization.” This latest project further develops Jeremy’s interest in the intersection of anthropology and governance, focusing on the connection between jurisprudential knowledge and the acquisition and utilization of socio-political authority.

Centre for Studies in Religion and Society