Islam Nusantara: A Semantic and Symbolic Analysis

Mark Woodward

Abstract


This paper presents a semantic and symbolic analysis of the concept and presentation of the concept of Islam Nusantara and the ways in which it evokes meaning and emotion to counter trans-national violent extremist movements including al-Qaeda and ISIS, based on Salafi-Wahhabi ideologies. It is based on a frame based content analysis of religious and political themes ofIslam Nusantra. I focus primarily on two films produced by Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) to promote this concept: the near feature length (83 minutes)The Blessing of Islam Nusantara (Oceans of Revelation: Islam as a Blessing for All Creation) and the much shorter (8 minutes) Launching the Film The Blessing Islam Nusantara. The first draws on elements of Sufism, Javanese and to a lesser extent other Indonesian cultures to construct a vision of Islam directly countering that of both violent and non-violent Salafi-Wahhabi extremists. The second promotes the film and Ansor’s (the NU youth organization) potential for combatting violent extremism. Theoretically, I rely on insights by Goffman’s observations concerning the ways in which semantic frames, and more specifically reframing, can alter dominance hierarchies in discourse systems and Sperber’s demonstration that symbolization is a cognitive process that evokes as well as communicates meaning and emotion.

Keywords


Islam Nusantara, Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia, Counter-radicalism

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References


- Launching the film, The Blessing Islam Nusantara. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P-OZ4fkuXdsThe Blessing of Islam Nusantara (Oceans of Revelation: Islam as a Blessing for All Creation) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLqaJlTjA5Y.

- Sperber, D. (1975) Rethinking Symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Fairhurst, G. & Sarr, R. (1996) The Art of Framing. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; Goffman, E. (1974) Frame Analysis: An Essay on the Organization of Experience.

- Fata, A. and Ichwan, M. (2017) “Pertarungan Kuasa Dalam Wacana Islam Nusantara,” ISLAMICA: Jurnal Studi Keislaman.

- Hodgson, M. (1975) The Venture of Islam, Volume 1: The Classical Age of Islam, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

- Liu, J., Fisher-Onar, N. and Woodward, M. (2014) “Symbologies, Technologies, and Identities: Critical Junctures Theory and the Multi-Layered Nation–State,” International Journal of Intercultural Relations.

- Levi Strauss, C. (1966). The Savage Mind. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Sperber,op. cit.

- Entman, R. (1993) “Framing: Toward Clarification of a Fractured Paradigm,” Journal of Communication. Scheufele; D. and Tewksbury, D (2007) “Framing, Agenda Setting, and Priming: The Evolution of Three Media

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- Chong, D., & Druckman, J. (2009) “A Theory of Framing and Opinion Formation in Competitive Elite Environments,” Journal of Communication.


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