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Facing Fear

by Michael Laffan Max Weiss

Fear is ubiquitous but slippery. It has been defined as a purely biological reality, derided as an excuse for cowardice, attacked as a force for social control, and even denigrated as an unnatural condition that has no place in the disenchanted world of enlightened modernity. In these times of institutionalized insecurity and global terror, Facing Fear sheds light on the meaning, diversity, and dynamism of fear in multiple world-historical contexts, and demonstrates how fear universally binds us to particular presents but also to a broad spectrum of memories, stories, and states in the past. From the eighteenth-century Peruvian highlands and the California borderlands to the urban cityscapes of contemporary Russia and India, this book collectively explores the wide range of causes, experiences, and explanations of this protean emotion. The volume contributes to the thriving literature on the history of emotions and destabilizes narratives that have often understood fear in very specific linguistic, cultural, and geographical settings. Rather, by using a comparative, multidisciplinary framework, the book situates fear in more global terms, breaks new ground in the historical and cultural analysis of emotions, and sets out a new agenda for further research. In addition to the editors, the contributors are Alexander Etkind, Lisbeth Haas, Andreas Killen, David Lederer, Melani McAlister, Ronald Schechter, Marla Stone, Ravi Sundaram, and Charles Walker.

The Makings of Indonesian Islam: Orientalism and the Narration of a Sufi Past

by Michael Laffan

Indonesian Islam is often portrayed as being intrinsically moderate by virtue of the role that mystical Sufism played in shaping its traditions. According to Western observers--from Dutch colonial administrators and orientalist scholars to modern anthropologists such as the late Clifford Geertz--Indonesia's peaceful interpretation of Islam has been perpetually under threat from outside by more violent, intolerant Islamic traditions that were originally imposed by conquering Arab armies. The Makings of Indonesian Islam challenges this widely accepted narrative, offering a more balanced assessment of the intellectual and cultural history of the most populous Muslim nation on Earth. Michael Laffan traces how the popular image of Indonesian Islam was shaped by encounters between colonial Dutch scholars and reformist Islamic thinkers. He shows how Dutch religious preoccupations sometimes echoed Muslim concerns about the relationship between faith and the state, and how Dutch-Islamic discourse throughout the long centuries of European colonialism helped give rise to Indonesia's distinctive national and religious culture. The Makings of Indonesian Islam presents Islamic and colonial history as an integrated whole, revealing the ways our understanding of Indonesian Islam, both past and present, came to be.

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