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Few people in North American academia are more knowledgeable about
Islam in Southeast Asia, and especially in Indonesia, than Howard Federspiel.
The forte of his own research contributions lays not so much in innovative
analyses as in presenting comprehensive and useful overviews for
specialists and novice students alike. As a political scientist, he made his
name with his study of Indonesia’s Persatuan Islam (PERSIS), a modernist
Islamic organization active from the 1920s until the 1950s – the critical time
frame during which the Dutch colony gained its independence. This was followed
by further contributions to the country’s contemporary intellectual
history. With Sultans, Shamans & Saints, Federspiel has now tried his hand
at producing a general overview of Islam in Southeast Asia ...