Head of Research Group

Dominik Müller
Dominik Müller
Telefon: +49 (0) 345 29 27 333


Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Telefon: +49 (0) 345 29 27 336
Timea Greta Biro
Timea Greta Biro
Telefon: +49 (0) 345 29 27 334
Rosalia Engchuan
Rosalia Engchuan
Telefon: +49 (0) 345 29 27 337
Annika Benz
Annika Benz
Student Team Member



DFG Emmy Noether Project
“The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia”
Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology
Advokatenweg 36, D-06114 Halle, Germany


February 2018
Dominik Müller has been awared a post-doctoral scholarship by the Daimler and Benz Foundation (2018-2019)

February 2018
Dominik Müller has taken up an "Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change Fellowship" at Harvard University

November 2017

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz and Timea Greta Biro have been selected to participate in the workshop "Studying the State: Anthropological Approaches" at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies

June 2017
Rosalia Engchuan has been selected to join a masterclass organized by EuroSEAS and the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies (OCIS) in Oxford in August 2017


7-8 September 2017
International Workshop: "The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia: Anthropological and Transdisciplinary Perspectives", MPI for Social Anthropology. Download Program

Emmy Noether Group - The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia

Emmy Noether Group – The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia

Following the popular waves of Islamic resurgence, bureaucracies have become influential societal actors in the religious field in Southeast Asia, particularly in countries where Muslim populations play a significant political role. The governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore have in diverse ways empowered ‘administrative’ bodies to guide Islamic discourse and regulate matters of religion and morality in the public sphere. Although their approaches and spheres of influence differ widely, each government tries to influence the direction Islamic discourse is taking in their territories through the bureaucratic imposition of categorical schemes in the name Islam and the nation-state.

The Research Group investigates the bureaucratization of Islam and its socio-legal dimensions from an anthropological perspective, with a particular focus on the state's exercise of ‘classificatory power’ and its actual workings on the micro-level. The project argues that the bureaucratization of Islam far transcends its organizational boundaries. Focusing on five case studies, the group will scrutinize how the transformation of Islam into the codes and procedures of bureaucracy has consequences that penetrate deeply into public discourse and the everyday lives of various social actors. The project also asks how social actors engage with bureaucratic practices, as the state’s classificatory power is co-produced and contested in society in uncertain and unpredictable ways. The project treats the bureaucratization of Islam not just descriptively as an empirical fact, but as a larger social phenomenon to be theorized in comparative perspective. Grounded in long-term fieldwork, focusing on actors' perspectives and positioned in anthropological debates, the project intends to generate a new anthropological understanding of contemporary Islam in the context of state power in Southeast Asia, with implications beyond the region.

Individual PhD projects

Bureaucratization of Islam in a Christian-Majority State: An Ethnography of the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF)

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz is conducting an ethnography of the ‘everyday political economy’ of a Muslim bureaucracy in the Philippines in order to examine how the state carries out its discourse on and engages with Islam and Muslims. Following a historical contextualization of the bureaucratization of Muslim affairs, it investigates how individuals and groups within the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) negotiate the control, distribution, and use of valuable material and non-material resources and to achieve desired goals.

The Bureaucratization of Zakat: An Ethnography of the Culture of Giving in Malaysia

Timea Greta Biro’s project ethnographically explores the practice of zakat (Islamic alms) in Malaysia. Once a matter of personal ritual and choice, in contemporary Malaysia zakat has increasingly become a tool of social engineering, classification, and education in the hands of the state-controlled religious bureaucracies. The project focuses on the implications the various zakat-related discourses (as a religious tax, a charitable act, a tool of economic development, an act of individual worship) have for the lives of those who claim a right to it (asnaf), and how they actively position themselves in their interactions with zakat institutions.

Budaya Sensor Mandiri: Film Censorship in Contemporary Indonesia

Rosalia Engchuans´s PhD project, ‘Budaya Sensor Mandiri: Film Censorship in Contemporary Indonesia’, analyses the dynamic social process of film censorship in the context of socio-cultural and technological changes. The Indonesian Censorship Board Lembaga Sensor Film (LSF) has recently re-oriented their strategy: contributing to the development of film in Indonesia and establishing a culture of self-censorship: budaya sensor mandiri. The analysis will be based on ethnographic research with actors involved in negotiations revolving around film censorship in contemporary Indonesia. 

The Emmy Noether Program (DFG)

The Emmy Noether Program is open to researchers from all academic disciplines. The German Research Foundation (DFG) stresses that an excellent scientific track record and outstanding publications in high ranking international specialist journals are key qualifications. Applicants must also have worked abroad for at least 12 months during either their Ph.D.s or postdocs.

Further information

Emmy Noether Guest Lecture Series 2017

Workshop: "Conceptualizing The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia: Anthropological and Transdisciplinary Perspectives" (7-8 September 2017)

Download Program

Picture Gallery (German Version)

Short Reflection (German Version)

Report (German Version)

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