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Saskia Schäfer


Humboldt-University Berlin

Institute of Asian and African Studies

Head of the Freigeist Research Project "Secularity, Islam, and Democracy in Indonesia and Turkey"

Current research:

Saskia Schäfer works on politics and religion. Her primary regional focus is Southeast Asia. After post-doctoral appointments at Columbia University New York (2013-2016) and the Chinese University of Hong Kong (2016), she now leads a research group on Secularity, Islam, and Democracy in Indonesia and Turkey at Humboldt University Berlin (since 2019). Her position and current research is funded by a Freigeist Fellowship from the Volkswagen Foundation.

Dissertationsprojekt (2009 - 2014):

The debate on religious freedom in contemporary Indonesia and Malaysia

Journal Articles

Islam Nusantara: The Conceptual Vocabulary of Indonesian Diversity. ISLAM NUSANTARA: Journal for the Study of Islamic History and Culture 2 (2), S. 1-16 (2021). DOI: 10.47776/islamnusantara.v3i1.163.

Democratic Decline in Indonesia: The Role of Religious Authorities. Pacific Affairs, Volume 92, Issue 2, 235-255 (2019).

Ahmadis or Indonesians? The polarization of post-reform public debates on Islam and orthodoxy. Critical Asian Studies, Volume 50, Issue 1 (2018)

Islam in the Echo Chamber: Homogenisation and Polarisation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Asiascape: Digital Asia, Volume 5, Issue 1-2, 124 – 158 (2018).

Forming ‘Forbidden’ Identities Online: Atheism in Indonesia. ASEAS – Austrian Journal of South-East Asian Studies, 9(2), 253-268 (2016).

Renegotiating Indonesian secularism through debates on Ahmadiyya and Shia, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 112 (2015).

Racialising Religion in the Debate on Religious Freedom in Malaysia, AlJami’ah: Journal for Islamic Studies, 47 (2009). 

Online Publications

Understanding Piety and Anger in Indonesia’s 2016 Islamic Mass Rallies. American Ethnologist Collections, edited by Carla Jones and Martin Slama; 16 October 2017.

Us versus them – Othering in the Malaysian elections and beyond, New Mandala (Australian National University), August 2013 (with Frederik Holst).

What gives Rise to Moral Outrage? Inside Indonesia, February 2013.

Book Chapters

On the Margins: Suburban Space and Religious Deviancy in Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur Understanding the City through its Margins, in: Chappatte, André, Ulrike Freitag and Nora Lafi (eds): Understanding the City through its Margins. Pluridisciplinary Perspectives from Case Studies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Routledge, London. 2017.

The Use of Online Media by Ahmadiyya and Shia communities in Indonesia and Malaysia, in: Richter, Carola and Nadja-Christina Schneider (eds): New Media Configurations. Nomos Verlag, Baden-Baden. 2015.

Anti-Feminist Discourses and Islam in Malaysia, in: Derichs, Claudia (ed) Women’s Movements and Counter Movements: The Quest for Gender Equality in Southeast Asia and the Middle East. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle-upon-Tyne. 2014. (with Frederik Holst)

With Julian C.H. Lee: Gender, Justice and Rights: The Malaysian Case, in: Tazreiter, Claudia and Tham Siew Yean (eds): Globalization and Social Transformation in the Asia Pacific: The Australian and Malaysian Experience. Palgrave MacMillan, Basingstoke. 2014.

Expanding the Toolbox: Discourse Analysis and Area Studies, in: Schneider, Nadja‐Christina and Bettina Gräf (eds.): Social Dynamics 2.0: Researching Change in Times of Media Convergence Case studies from the Middle East and Asia. Frank & Timme, Berlin. 2011.