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2 Situating "Islam" in Indonesia The Matrix of Class Relations The "religious" nature of the diverse forms of violence witnessed in Indonesia in recent years cannot be divined simply through an exploration of Islamic beliefs, practices, and institutions in this predominantly Muslim archipelago, or with reference to confessional diversity and differences among Muslims or between Muslims and Christians. Instead, the complex pattern of religious violence in Indonesia must be understood with reference to the location of religious identities and institutions within the country 's peculiar matrix of class relations, which can be traced back to the era of Dutch colonial rule. Here "class" is understood not only in terms of difference in relation to the means-economic, cultural, social, and symbolic -of production and capital accumulation but also as the basis of relationships that have been worked out historically through a process of mutual (self-) definition. As E. P. Thompson argued nearly forty years ago, class is something which in fact happens (and can be shown to have happened) in human relationships. More than this the notion of class entails the notion of historical relationships. Like any other relationship, it is a fluency which evades analysis if we attempt to stop it dead at any given moment and anatomise its structure. The finest-meshed sociological net cannot give us a pure specimen of class, any more than it can give us one of deference or love. The relationship must always be embodied in real people and in a real context. Moreover, we cannot have two distinct classes, each with an independent being, and then bring them into relationship with each other. We cannot have love without lovers, nor deference without squires and labourers. And class happens when some men, as a result of common ex18 Situating "Islam" in Indonesia 19 periences (inherited or shared), feel and articulate the identity of their interests as between themselves, and as against other men whose interests are different from (and usually opposed to) theirs.l Although this configuration of class relations has in no small measure been shaped by the Dutch colonial state in the Netherlands East Indies and its successors in an independent Indonesia, it is also the product of an interactive and ongoing process of class identity construction and recognition . The Indonesian pattern has assumed a distinctive form, one in which questions and "fantasies" of representation have loomed particularly large, and in which religion-and Islam in particular-has occupied an especially prominent but problematic place. It is a pattern traceable from the formation of new social classes in the Dutch colonial era through various permutations in class relations during the Soekarno era (1950-65) and the first decades of Suharto's "New Order" regime (1966-98). Stressing the distinctive ambiguity, instability, and dynamism inherent in the nexus of class relations in Indonesia and situating religious identities and institutions within this nexus provide a crucial backdrop to the changes in class relations in the Suharto era and the subsequent development of religious violence. "Capitalism with a Chinese Face": A Pariah Business Class First and most famously, the pattern of class relations in Indonesia has been distinguished by the decisively problematic status and political weakness of its overwhelmingly ethnic Chinese capitalist class, a legacy of Dutch colonial policies. As elsewhere in Southeast Asia, trade between ports in the Indonesian archipelago and the Celestial Kingdom dates back many centuries . Long before the arrival of Europeans, merchants from the southern coast of China not only traded but also settled in ports along the northern coast (pasisir) of Java and in coastal communities of the Moluccas, Sulawesi , Sumatra, and Borneo. By the fourteenth century these immigrant men and the locally born (peranakan) offspring of their unions with indigenous women had established permanent settlements. As the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie [VOC]) began to dominate and intensify long-distance trade in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries in the archipelago, these merchants played pioneering roles in the incipient commercialization and monetization of the economy. In the nineteenth century, moreover, an unprecedented wave of migration-most notably of Hokkien, Cantonese, Hakka, and Teochiu speakers from the 20 Riots, Pogroms, jihad provinces of Fujian and Guangdong-brought hundreds of thousands of new men from southern China to the Netherlands East Indies and other parts of Southeast Asia.2 The complex of "push" and "pull" factors for this massive wave of migration, it is clear, derived essentially from the differential extent of incorporation of the two zones into...


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