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Humanities Colloquium - Martin Slama (Anthropology): A Subtle Economy of Time: Exploring Social Media and Indonesia's Islamic Preacher Economy Through the Prism of Pierre Bourdieu's Work

When Jun 08, 2015
from 01:15 PM to 02:45 PM
Where FRIAS, Albertstr. 19, Seminar Room
Contact Name
Contact Phone +49 (0)761 203-97362
Attendees universitätsoffen / open to university members
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Contemporary research on Islam in Indonesia stresses the entanglements of Indonesia’s Islamic field with business-related activities in various sections of the economy, including attempts to understand Indonesian Islam itself as a “market of faith”. While inspired by this literature, the paper simultaneously goes beyond it by approaching the marketization of Islam from a digital anthropology perspective developed in the course of a research project entitled “Islamic (Inter)Faces of the Internet”. It argues that new communication technologies and especially social media significantly transform some aspects of this economy – and this particularly applies to the field of Islamic preachers. Crucial for this transformation are changes in the ways Islam is conveyed in contemporary Indonesia. Whereas before the advent of social media communication mainly ran one-way from Islamic preachers to their followers, today preachers need to develop more dialogic and interactive skills in order to effectively reach their audience. They have to be able to respond to the often personal concerns of their followers when contacted online, and they are expected to accomplish this in a timely manner. The paper investigates the preachers’ success (and failure) by adopting Pierre Bourdieu’s distinction between different forms of capital (economic, social and cultural) and his emphasis on the possibility of conversion of one form of capital into another. As Bourdieu pointed out, “a subtle economy of time” is a crucial factor in these processes and, as will be demonstrated in the paper, this is an all the more valid observation with regard to Indonesia’s Islamic preacher economy in the age of social media.