Muslim Politics and Popular Culture in Malaysia: PAS, Hudud, and Rock 'n' Roll



Dominik Müller, Stanford University

Date and Time

February 26, 2013 12:00 PM - 1:30 PM



Open to the public.

RSVP required by 5PM February 25.


Daniel and Nancy Okimoto Conference Room

Malaysia’s 13th general election is imminent and the opposition coalition (Pakatan Rakyat) is fragile. Inside the coalition, the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and the secularist Democratic Action Party have little in common. PAS itself is split along generational lines and ideologically divided between reform-oriented pragmatists and hard-line Islamists. The youth wing of PAS is increasingly vocal in accusing the party of having abandoned key principles in the “Islamic struggle.” Based on anthropological fieldwork, Dominik Müller will review how PAS Youth members are contesting the party’s future in both political and cultural terms.

In Muslim politics in Malaysia, does increasing recourse to popular culture augur an incipient “post-Islamist” turn? Young Muslim activists in PAS are using YouTube and Facebook, commercial brands, celebrity personalities, and rock music to disseminate their call to “purify the struggle” for an Islamic state or “caliphate.” Do these “secular” media dilute if not drown out the politico-religious message? Or, given their popular appeal, do they render it all the more convincing? And with what implications for Islam and politics—in Malaysia and, analogously, elsewhere in the Muslim world?

Dominik Müller obtained his doctorate summa cum laude in 2012 from Frankfurt University, where he works as a research associate in the Department of Anthropology. His dissertation on Islam, politics, and youth in Malaysia will be published in 2013. His research project at Stanford, funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), examines patterns of socio-legal change in the Malay world.


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