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“Hybrid Pathways to Orthodoxy: Esoteric Practices in 'Sharia-Compliant‘ Exorcism” by Prof. Dominik Müller

  • 2023-07-11
  • 18:15 - 19:45
  • 63672581746

My presentation will address attempts of systematically "purifying" Muslim Malay cultural practices related to invisible worlds in the Sultanate of Brunei, which are linked to a massive state-driven process of centralizing, bureaucratizing and controlling Islam-related practices by political and legal means. Newly established "Sharia-serving practices“ which have been generated in this process over the past two decades, however, have become culturally re-embedded and are simultaneously drawing upon multifold transnational symbolic registers, in rather multi-directional ways that complicate their orthodox framing. In the main ethnographic example, water-crystal photography conduced by the globally famous Japanese esoteric celebrity person Masuru Emoto, digital media practices and the rationalizing quest for evidence and scientization have become integrated into the project of promoting a new form of state-controlled "proper" Islamic exorcism and fighting (or "re- educating") its traditional practitioners. I will contextualize these hybrid pathways to orthodoxy vis-a-vis their locally- specific their post-colonial historical trajectory, i.e. the discursive substrate of bureaucratizing Islam in the Bruneian "M.I.B. State", while simultaneously making reference to some transnational and trans-regional entanglements which are shaping the developments at play in the observed case study.

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