Jointly organised by Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore, and International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia. 

How have state and non-state efforts to distribute Muslims in time and space allowed for the containment of religious populations, or contributed to new manifestations of diversity and mobility? Did the contests between containment and connection generate new social, political, and ethical frameworks that might be construed through the explanatory framework of “Islamic cosmopolitanism”? This conference jointly hosted by Asia Research Institute, NUS, and UniSA’s International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, presents a focus on these questions.

Islamic groups and individuals have long conceived of their faith as reflecting ideals of a broader universal community, a global umma. However, the actual practices and perceptions of what is considered the relevant boundaries and horizons of the Muslim community have varied across time and place. This international and interdisciplinary conference is designed to explore the interplay between projects of enclosure and the fashioning of cosmopolitan Islamic subjectivities in Asian contexts, historically and ethnographically. With the term “enclosure” we refer to those “productive” state and non-state projects designed to organize local populations within discrete geographic formations and homogenous religious communities. The term “Islamic cosmopolitanism” is used to denote a broad range of open-ended identities, affiliations, and engagements that allowed Muslims to stake out positions in a wider, global frame. The larger goal of the conference is to explore the relationship between efforts to control Muslims in the lightly regulated “wild spaces” of Asia, and paradoxically, the subsequent mobilities, connections, and ethical frameworks of mutual obligation that grew out of such efforts. This conference will bring established and early-career researchers together to explore how faith-based identities are negotiated. Contributors may address spaces anywhere in Asia, and no temporal constraints apply.

The objectives of this conference are:

  • Articulate flexible definitions of Islamic cosmopolitanism across Asia
  • Examine historically and ethnographically the dialectic between Muslim and non-Muslim diversity on the one hand, and the influence of forces of enclosure which seek to regulate and homogenize belief and practice on the other
  • Map the re-constitution of Muslim beliefs, practices, and networks at the blurry boundaries of spatial and regulatory enclosure as a technique of power


We invite original research papers that ask the following questions:

–          How do state and non-state actors attempt to territorialise lightly-regulated spaces? How do location based programs encourage ‘development’ outcomes in national, proto-national, regional, or urban areas? How do religion and Islam fit into this process of regulation?

–          In what ways do the social tensions created by forces of enclosure generate interactive responses from Muslims? How do these factors influence electoral behavior, negotiations in the pursuit of livelihoods and resources, and the emergence of social and political movements?

–          How might the technologies of enclosure, paradoxically, generate reconfigured expressions of mobility, belonging and identification that transcend homogenized spatial and spiritual regimes? How did Muslims utilize modern transportation and communications technologies, weapons, schools and other instruments usually associated with state control to articulate geographically unbounded alternatives?

–          What constitutes “cosmopolitanism” in modern Muslim contexts? Should cosmopolitanism be construed strictly in terms of ethical, theological, and philosophical outlooks, or in a more practical and historical frame of mobility and border crossing? Where is this mobility located? What spatial forms are created and transcended in interactions between enclosure and cosmopolitanism?

–          Can cosmopolitanism be a useful lens beyond urban middle and upper middle class circulations for understanding Muslims in lightly regulated “wild spaces”?




Paper proposals should include a title, an abstract of 350 words maximum and a brief personal biography of 150 words for submission by 24 September 2014.Please send all proposals to Dr Joshua Gedacht at For a copy of the submission form, click here. Successful applicants will be notified by 15 October and are required to send in a completed draft paper (5,000 – 8,000 words) by 15 December. Based on the quality of proposals and availability of funds, partial or full funding may be granted to successful applicants. Participants are therefore encouraged to seek fund for travel from their home institutions. Full funding covers air travel to Singapore by the most economical means, plus board and lodging for the duration of the conference.


DATE : 14-15 January 2015
VENUE : Asia Research Institute (ARI), Seminar Room, Tower Block Level 10 
469A Bukit Timah Road, Singapore 259770, NUS Bukit Timah Campus



Asia Research Institute, National University of Singapore

Dr Amrita MALHI
International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia

Assoc Prof Michael FEENER
Asia Research Institute, and Department of History, National University of Singapore

Prof AbdouMaliq SIMONE
International Centre for Muslim and non-Muslim Understanding, University of South Australia

Be Sociable, Share!
Site Web de l'Association française pour la recherche sur l'Asie du Sud-Est: Afrase Follow us Facebook Twiter RSS