Wednesday Forum: Invisible Communities and Baha’ism in Southeast Asia

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Abstract

The spread of religious millenarianism in the member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has raised significant questions about religious movement in those countries. The Baha’i religion provides an important case and relevant context as the Baha’i movement has been paralyzed in its country of origin, Iran, since the beginning of the movement in 1844. To avoid persecution and violence, many Baha’i adherents moved to other regions in Southeast Asia. The Baha’i religion is committed to developing educational skills, economic sustainability, gender empowerment, and social movements. Thus, ASEAN encompasses a dynamic and diverse region that aims to provide social, religious, economic, and cultural security for ASEAN citizens. Minority religions such as the Baha’i community, which at the times are victims of conflict and violence, play an important role in achieving those aims. Conversely, religious violence and conflict may be seen as part of the regional deficit in terms of religious freedom and tolerance. In this context, my study tries to examine religious millenarianism and the future evolution of the ASEAN community. The study investigates the co-existence of the Baha’i community with other religious groups such as Muslim, Christian, and Buddhist in their social, political, and cultural negotiations. As the Baha’i engage on some social and political issues in globalization and embrace liberalism and pluralism in the public space, I argue that this study contributes to scholarship in terms of understanding the fate of religious millenarianism in the future of the ASEAN community.

Speaker

Amanah Nurish Ph.D Cand Researcher of Baha’i studies. She is pursuing doctorate at ICRS UGM-Yogyakarta and working as consultant of USAID team-Washington for assessment program, “Fragility and Conflict”. She wrote book chapters, articles, and journals. Her latest publications: Sufism and Baha’ism: The Crossroads of Religious Movement in Southeast Asia (2016, Equinox publisher, London) Perjumpaan Baha’i Dan Syiah Di Asia Tenggara (2016, Maarif Jurnal, Jakarta) Welcoming Baha’i: New Official Religion In Indonesia (2014, The Jakarta Post) Social Injustice and Problem Of Human Rights In Indonesian Baha’is Community (2012, En Arche Journal, Yogyakarta) etc. She received prestigious awards for her academic works such as King Abdullah Bin Abdulazis’s interfaith center-Vienna, SEASREP-Philippine, ENITS-Thailand, Luce & Ford Foundation-USA, ARI-NUS, etc. With her teamwork, she is currently undertaking a broader anthropological research on “ Religious Millenarianism in ASEAN countries” for publication supported by Arizona State University of America.

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