Peter Suwarno, Local Performances of Dakwah: A Case of Islamization of Java, Javanization of Islam

Dr. Peter Suwarno, Associate Professor of Indonesian in the School of International Peter SuwarnoLetters and Cultures is an awardee of the 2016 A.T. Steele Travel grant for his work Local Performances of Dakwah: A Case of Islamization of Java, Javanization of Islam. One of the most intriguing developments in Indonesian dakwah (Islamic preaching) is the creativity of preachers and performers in using various media to attract audience. The purpose of Dr. Suwarno’s project is to investigate how Javanese local performances are adapted to incorporate Islamic rhetoric, symbols, and rituals and to describe the consequential controversies. This will be done through participating in the performances, viewing and collecting video recordings as well as interviewing artists (performers), preachers and leaders on their ideas about these changes. It is expected that the modern puritan Muslims would argue that Islam has been Javanized resulting in the attenuation of true Islamic teachings; while the Javanese traditionalists would argue that due to the Islamization of traditional performances, Javanese have lost their values and identity. Still many others approve and enjoy participating in these changes.