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


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


November 2018
M. Künkler has joined the Emmy Noether group as the project's Mercator Fellow. She will be in residence until Feb. 2019.

November 2018
Waseem Naser has joined the Group. His PhD project is funded by the DAAD.

November 2018
R. Engchuan has received a DAAD travel grant for the American Academy of Religion (AAR) conference in Denver.

May 2018
D. Müller has published a special issue: "The Bureaucratisation of Islam in Southeast Asia: Transdisciplinary Perspectives". Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs. More information.

April 2018
R. Engchuan has been selected to join the EuroSEAS workshop “'Listen to your Eyes': Multimedia Web-Based Storytelling for Researchers”, University of Milano-Bicocca.

March 2018
D. Müller received the John A. Lenz Prize 2018 by the Association for Asian Studies' (AAS) MSB Group. The committee's commendation is available here (pp. 3-4)

February 2018
D. Müller has been awared a post-doctoral grant by the Daimler and Benz Foundation. More information

November 2017
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz and Timea Greta Biro have participated in the workshop "Studying the State: Anthropological Approaches" at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies

June 2017
R. Engchuan has been selected to join a EuroSEAS masterclass at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies in August 2017


11 Oktober 2019
Workshop: "Politics and the Supernatural in Southeast Asia" (Cambridge-Sciences Po "CamPo"-MPI collaboration), Pembroke College University of Cambridge, UK. 

04 - 05 April 2019
Workshop: "Bureaucratizing Diversity in Muslim Southeast Asia and Beyond" (Daimler & Benz Stiftung Project), Islamic Legal Studies Program: Law and Social Change (ILSP: LSC), Harvard University. 

31 January - 1 February 2019
Workshop: "Governance and Processes of Bureaucratization", Department of Anthropology, University of Leipzig. 

13 September 2018
Fieldwork Break Workshop: "The Bureaucratization of Islam in Southeast Asia", Centre for Asian Legal Studies, National University of Singapore.

4-5 July 2018
International Workshop: "Social Categorization and Religiously Framed State-Making in Southeast Asia" (funded by Daimler & Benz Stiftung), Asian Studies Centre, St Antony's College, University of Oxford. Download Program

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

Header image 1510939121

Mitarbeiter | Veranstaltungen | Publikationen | News | Kooperationspartner | Kontakt

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

Following the popular waves of Islamic resurgence, religious bureaucracies have become increasingly influential societal and political actors in Southeast Asia. The governments of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Singapore have in diverse ways empowered 'administrative' bodies to guide Islamic discourse and regulate public morality. Although their national histories, approaches and spheres of influence differ widely, in each of these countries state-actors passionately try to influence the direction Islamic discourse is taking in their territories. Simultaneously, non-state actors try to influence the state's governance of Islam and public morality, resulting in mutual attempts to engage, educate and at times manipulate each other.

The Research Group investigates the bureaucratization of Islam from an anthropological perspective, with a particular focus on the state's attempted exercise of 'classificatory power' and its workings on the micro-level. The project argues that the bureaucratization of Islam transcends its organizational boundaries in multifold ways. Focusing on five case studies, the group scrutinizes how the translation of Islam into the 'languages' (codes, symbols, procedures) of bureaucracy, the nation state, and other powerful registers has consequences that deeply affect public discourse and the everyday lives of various social actors, while bureaucratic schemes of state-ified Islam diffuse into society. The project also asks how social actors actively engage with such bureaucratic schemes, as the state’s classificatory power is necessarily co-produced and contested in society in unpredictable ways. The project treats the bureaucratization of Islam as a social phenomenon to be theorized comparatively, taking into account locally unique dynamics of nationally framed religious meaning-making as well as larger transnational flows and patterns. Grounded in long-term fieldwork and focusing on actors' perspectives, the project generates new anthropological understandings of Islam in the context of state power in (and beyond) Southeast Asia.

Individual PhD projects

The Everyday Politics of Halal Development and Governance at the National Commission on Muslim Filipinos

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz’s current research investigates the National Commission of Muslim Filipinos (NCMF) – a state institution mandated to administer the affairs of the Muslims of the Philippines and to advise the government on matters pertaining to its Muslim population – and how it is bureaucratizing the discourse on Islam and Muslims. Focusing on the governance (including certification, standards and enforcement) and development (promotion and institutionalization) of the country’s halal (‘permissible’ according to Islamic teachings) food industry, Abdul Aziz’s research examines the ‘everyday politics’ of the Commission’s bureaucrats as the government and private sector aspire to promote, develop and institutionalize that industry in face of the growing domestic and global Muslim markets.

Bringing Transwomen back to Fitrah: Social Engineering through Religious Education and the use of Islamic Alms in Malaysia

Timea Greta Biro's PhD project examines the interactions between Muslim trans-women and state-Islamic bureaucracies in Malaysia, focusing in particular on government attempts to “rehabilitate” transgender people, at times through the use of Islamic alms (zakat), and simultaneous attempts by trans-women to influence the state. In her ethnography, Greta aims to explore life-stories of trans-women, as well as the everyday workings and policies of bureaucracies “assisting” them, while addressing broader anthropological issues such as, gender- and religious identity, body-politics, self-representation, violence and nation-making.

The Stories before Film: Cinematic Practices of Komunitas Film in Indonesia

“If you want to understand Indonesia you have to watch short films.” (Indonesian film activist)

Rosalia’s PhD project “The Stories before Film: Cinematic Practices of Komunitas Film in Indonesia” is concerned with the roots and becoming of the larger ecosystem of komunitas film (film community/-ies) - the space where these short films are made, screened and discussed. Unlike in commercial cinemas, where film is mostly aimed at entertainment, the acts of making, screening and discussing film are organically interrelated in the cinematic practices of komunitas film. Often, films are made to create empathy and screened to trigger discussions on social issues. Rosalia’s focus on the larger ecosystem of komunitas film offers insights on the process of strategic self-bureaucratization and their relationships with state bureaucratic bodies as well as national and international non-governmental actors. Further, her interest in the process of filmmaking led her to explore the entanglements of religion, shamanism and technology during film production, as well as the workings of normativity as an actor in the actor-network of filmmaking. Rooted in her insights on the process of filmmaking as a performative and collective act, her method of ethnographically informed film analysis offers novel insights on acts of nation-making trough cinematic practices covering topics such as ethnicity, gender normativity, history-altering, human-environment relations in the Anthropocene and religiosity.

The Emmy Noether Program (DFG)

The Emmy Noether Program provides early career researchers with the opportunity to rapidly qualify for a leading position in science and research or for a university teaching career. It is open to researchers from all academic disciplines. 

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)

Workshop: "Social Categorization and Religiously Framed State-Making in Southeast Asia" (4-5 June 2018)

Emmy Noether Guest Lecture Series 2019 Bild vergrößern
Emmy Noether Guest Lecture Series 2019
loading content
Zur Redakteursansicht