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Unmodern Intimacies? Affect and Emotional Selves in Malaysia

Thursday, December 5, 2019 at 12:00pm to 1:30pm

Kahin Center
640 Stewart Ave, Ithaca, NY 14850, USA

Part of the Ronald and Janette Gatty series

Dr. Alicia Izharuddin, Women's Studies in Religion Program, Harvard Divinity School 

Alicia Izharuddin’s lecture concerns the practices, institutions, and infrastructures that contribute to the formation of ‘counter-publics’. It asks a few questions: what role do emotions play in the formation of publics? Rather than ‘irrational’ and inchoate, can emotions be mobilized and organized in productive ways? Her lecture, ‘Unmodern Intimacies? Affect and Emotional Selves in Malaysia’ engages with these questions by paying attention to the emotional fallout of bureaucratic modes of Islamic governance in the public and private lives of Muslims in Malaysia. Islamization in Malaysia was made ‘efficient’ and ‘rational’ through bureaucratic approaches to governance, expanding shariah compliance and its influence across nearly all aspects of Muslim and non-Muslim life. She argues that the bureaucratization of Islam has institutionalized ‘emotional asymmetry’ between Muslim men and women whereby, among other things, men can freely express their male sexual entitlement in the presence of ‘obedient’ women. These gendered consequences have been responded to by countervailing agents, not least by Muslim feminist activists. The lecture however focuses on a range of unlikely figures, practices, communities, and infrastructures in Malay popular media cultures that redress the emotional fallout of bureaucratic Islam. Rather than simply a method of coping, these tactics involve reclaiming cultural scripts of women’s emotionality towards productive and community-building ends.


Co-sponsored by FGSS

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Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Southeast Asia Program, Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Government, History of Art and Visual Studies



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James Nagy

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Dr. Alicia Izharuddin

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Harvard Divinity School

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