Sectarian Identity Formation and Intra-Group Muslim Rivalries in Southeast Asia






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This panel examines the dynamics of sectarianism in Muslim-majority countries in Southeast Asia, as well as in those countries with significant Muslim minority communities. The panel aims to contribute to a more nuanced understanding of sectarianism and the development of intra-Muslim group contestations by focusing on the multiple factors that shape modern sectarian identity formation within Southeast Asian Muslim communities. By moving away from rigid, primordial-centred and theologically-rooted conceptualisations of sectarian divides, the panel instead demonstrates the workings of multiple structural factors and contextual drivers in the construction of sectarian identities such as the politicisation of ethno-religious identities; competition over access to state recognition and resources; political uncertainty or change; subnational contestations over reinterpretations of religious traditions; and transnational ideological influences. Through the empirical examples provided in the papers of this panel, we seek to answer fundamental questions on why, when and how modern sectarian identities are variously emphasised and de-emphasised by different political, religious and social actors, as a consequence of the high salience or low salience of identifiable structural and contextual drivers in the different national contexts studied. The panel convenes junior and senior scholars of Muslim societies in Southeast Asia to address these questions from a sociological and political science interdisciplinary perspective.