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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Laurie J Sears
HSTAS 466
Seattle Campus

Islam, Mysticism, Politics and Performance in Indonesian Culture

Examines how Indonesia, the world's fourth most-populous country, with the largest Islamic population, weaves together local practices and influences from India and Persia. Offers ways of understanding modern Indonesian performing arts, religion, and polities. Offered: jointly with JSIS A 462.

Class description

This course has a twofold purpose: 1) to introduce students to Indonesian religious and mystical traditions, performing arts, and politics and 2) to show how Indonesian Islam has been interpreted and misinterpreted in scholarly and popular literatures of the colonial and postcolonial periods.

Student learning goals

Understand the complexity of the modern history of the world's fourth most densely populated country.

Understand the ways in which Islam is studied and practiced outside of the Middle East.

Understand how historical information is conveyed in literary texts, films, performing arts, and academic essays.

Understand how to evaluate the ideological positioning of a variety of historical sources.

Understand how the writing of history is conditioned by various factors including memory, politics, religious belief, and identity.

Be inspired to continue the study of Indonesian and Southeast Asian histories.

General method of instruction

This course juxtaposes historical, mystical, and literary ways of understanding Indonesian religion, performance, and politics. Through a combination of reading, discussion, films, videos and guest lectures, we will gain an appreciation for the ways in which religion, performance and politics are intertwined in Indonesian histories.

Recommended preparation

Read the readings and come to class.

Class assignments and grading

Course Requirements and Readings: Clifford Geertz, Islam Observed Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Footsteps Ken George, Picturing Islam Jean Taylor, Indonesia: Peoples and Histories

Goals Students should prepare the readings conscientiously, take notes on it, ask questions of it, and think deeply about it, all in advance of class. Students should also be willing to participate in class discussion and in-class writing assignments.

Grading The course grade will be calculated as follows:

In-Class Writing and Discussion 40% (8 assignments, 5% each) Group project 25% Final Take-home exam 35%

There will be in-class queries handed out on Thursdays in the last half hour of class in weeks 2 through week 8. Students must cogently answer the question posed. Questions will be based on the assigned readings for each week.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Laurie J Sears
Date: 02/07/2014