Corina van Beelen
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August 28, 2018

Corina van Beelen: The Myth of Exceptionalism

Thinking Trough Things (series)

Islam Nusantara is a distinctive branch of Islam developed in the Indonesian archipelago (Nusantara) since the 16th century, as a result of interaction and syncretization of universal Islamic values, according to the socio-cultural context of Indonesia. The term ‘Islam Nusantara’ was coined and proposed by the Indonesian organization Nahdlatul Ulama in 2015 as an alternative representation of global Islam that is currently dominated by Arabic or Middle Eastern perspectives. The Nahdlatul Ulama has been promoting Islam Nusantara as a means to counter Islamic radicalism due to its ‘moderate’ Islamic aims, which has been celebrated and praised on a global scale in light of rising Islamic fundamentalism and radicalism throughout the world with the rise of ISIS. Consequently, this project is an exploration into the way in which Islam Nusantara attempts to define an exceptionally moderate Islamic Indonesian modernity through the images it puts forward on social media. What does it mean to illustrate Indonesian modernity as ‘exceptionally Islamic’? To what extent does this foster a myth of exceptionalism that is increasingly used in today’s rise of neo-nationalism?

Photo Credits: Roselinde Bon and Oliver Tänzer

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