Indonesian Islam in a New Era How Women Negotiate Their Muslim Identities by Susan Blackburn, Bianca J. Smith, and Siti Syamsiyatun, eds. (Victoria, Australia: Monash University Press, 2008. 212 pages.)

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Rosnani Hashim

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Abstract

This work examines the negotiations that Indonesian Muslim women have
made in certain areas of life in the post-Suharto era, an era of socio-political
reform in which “it is possible to question accepted attitudes and break new
ground” (p. 16), and their religious practices and identities. The editors
claim that their work breaks new ground in that (a) it informs readers of
“how the women themselves experience their religion and actively engage
with it in their lives” (p. 1); (b) it focuses on women and Islam in the post-
Suharto period, in which Islam is more prominent and it is more acceptable
to put forward feminist views in Indonesia and within Islam; and (c) it is
the effort of insiders – Indonesian women with western and Islamic training
– who can bridge the gap between western and Indonesian scholarship
on Islam and women. The editors state up front that the book does not
deliberately engage in a critical feminist theory and that they are not feminist
writers; rather, they are influenced by feminism and desire to show that
women are active participants and not mere “passive victims of male
oppression” (p. 2) ...

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