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Lecture | LUCIS Keynotes

Sharia Transformations: Cultural Politics and the Rebranding of an Islamic Judiciary

  • Michael G. Peletz
Date
Thursday 20 May 2021
Time
Explanation
This lecture is followed by a virtual reception in the LUCIS Wonder Room.
Address
This is an online event. Please register below to receive the link to the lecture and virtual reception.

Few symbols in today’s world are as laden and fraught as sharia—an Arabic-origin term referring to the straight path, the path God revealed for humans, the norms and rules guiding Muslims on that path, and Islamic law and normativity as enshrined in sacred texts, legal commentary, and formal statutes. Yet the ways Muslim men and women experience the myriad dimensions of sharia often go unnoticed and unpublicized. So too do recent historical changes in sharia judiciaries and the contemporary strategies of political and religious elites, social engineers, and brand stewards to shape, solidify, and rebrand these institutions.

In this presentation, Michael Peletz discusses his new book, Sharia Transformations, which is an ethnographic, historical, and theoretical study of the practice and lived entailments of sharia in Malaysia, arguably the most economically successful Muslim-majority nation in the world. The book focuses on the routine, everyday practices of Malaysia’s sharia courts and examines how these court practices and discourses have changed due to processes of bureaucratization, corporatization, and Islamization that have occurred in Malaysia's juridical and cultural-political fields since the late 1970s. Peletz approaches Malaysia’s sharia judiciary as a global assemblage and addresses important issues in the humanistic and social-scientific literature concerning how Malay Muslims engage ethical norms and deal with law, social justice, and governance in a rapidly globalizing world. 

About Michael G. Peletz

Michael G. Peletz is Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and former Chair of the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. He was a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton (2005-2006), and has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Humanities Center, the Social Science Research Council, the Fulbright Scholarship Program, the National Science Foundation, and the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research. His publications include Gender Pluralism: Southeast Asia Since Early Modern Times (Routledge, 2009); Islamic Modern: Religious Courts and Cultural Politics in Malaysia (Princeton, 2002); Reason and Passion: Representations of Gender in a Malay Society (California, 1996); and Bewitching Women, Pious Men: Gender and Body Politics in Southeast Asia (California, 1995), edited with Aihwa Ong. 

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