The Indonesian “Cosmopolitan Islamic Intellectual” Revisited: A Focus on the Continued Prevalence of “Cosmopatriotism” and the “West”

In: International Journal of Islam in Asia
Amanda tho Seeth German Institute for Global and Area Studies (GIGA) Neuer Jungfernstieg 21, 20354 Hamburg Germany

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This paper argues that the mainstream Indonesian cosmopolitan Islamic intellectual milieu has not been adequately conceptualized in existing literature. By presenting a political history of the evolution of this cosmopolitan cohort and by engaging with contemporary emic Indonesian debates on the nexus between cosmopolitanism, Islam, and the nation state, the paper finds that in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries in the archipelago, cosmopolitan Islamic thought has been, and continues to be, significantly driven and shaped by the interplay of international influences dominated by the “West” and Indonesian patriotic politics. More recently, Indonesia’s perceived status as an Islamic periphery and the country’s emerging soft power agenda contribute to furthering a peculiar relationship between cosmopolitanism and patriotism in Indonesian Islamic intellectualism. The paper argues that as a result of the strong impact of patriotism, mainstream Indonesian cosmopolitan Islamic intellectuals are best understood as nationally rooted “cosmopatriots,” representing “cosmopatriotism,” while the “West” remains a central intellectual and cultural reference point.

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