mysophobia 潔癖

Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.

The Cunning of Recognition

If I cannot present passages that would continue to horrify liberal readers, how can I convincingly demonstrate how these same liberal subjects are now haunted by the specter of historically mistaken intolerances, and by the severed grounds of any and every modal imperative? How can I produce in the reader the impossible conditions of being rent by the two moral imperatives of late liberalism: I must be tolerant of cultural difference; I must not allow the repugnantly illiberal? If I cannot produce this effect then I cannot adequately convey the impossible conditions of being an Aboriginal subject in a multicultural state; namely, the demand that they span the contradictory imperatives of late liberalism and protect the liberal subject from experiencing the (ir)rationality of their intolerance.


The Cunning of Recognition 2002 Duke University by Povinelli

Its inspiration to Indonesian religious tolerance:

How could a modern, post-colonial nation condone a state-sanctioned space of religious immorality, in which the religion left by the colonizers always threaten to disintegrate the indigenous faiths? How could the Christian population be safely integrated into the nation and be given “religious freedom,” when this individual freedom is protected unambiguously at the expense the Muslim majority?

Indeed, I want to argue that an Islamic understanding of conversion and religious freedom is a true alterity, even if another equality valid Islamic interpretation would be more assimilable to liberal forms of natinoalism. But I wish to stick to the alterity that challenges the liberal understanding of religious rights.  I claim no inherent nature of either Islam or Christianity. Rather, I wish to argue that this true alterity is also a historical product, being specifically selected as a response to the domination of many aspects in today’s world by the sociopolitical entity we now call  the West.


I wish to sketch one aspect of the condition of its emergence: the (still) unresolved and irreducible tensions within liberal national settler ideologies in the context of indigenous agency. …a logic of a prohibitive interest– a practical, and legal, form of ambivalence still apparent in the contemporary law of recognition.


I want to bring this back to the new forms of producing locality that Appadurai has summarized so well. The public spheres, or the promotion of multiculturalism/pluralism, human rights, or religious tolerance, are all “the crucibles of a postnational political order” (p22), because they engines that spread these discourses are mass media, activists, and so forth. Indeed, simply the religious profile of the neighborhoods that I study testifies to what Appadurai calls “implosion of neighborhoods” (p199), as great disjuncture occur when different values and norms are imagined in such discrepant manners. Compared to the old pluralism during the colonial period or prior to that, what is new is the mass-mediated discourses and practices of religious tolerance, pluralism, and human rights that now surround the nationalism that the neighborhood always vows to protect every August 17th. They are unlikely to be anything merely about the local. They are diasporic and carry Indonesian characters, but their nature must be dialogic, voiced through channels that originated elsewhere.

But it is still deeply national, however compromised and challenged, in Indonesia. The neighborhood culture in Indonesia has shown its resilience, despite the centrifugal forces that threaten to disintegrate it. Since disjuncture also always points to something conjunctural (p199). The task of theorizing the relationship between such disjunctures….is pressing and daunting.


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This entry was posted on January 13, 2014 by in 【Indonesia-ish & SEAsia】, 【Voices of Muslims】.
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