Professor Kathryn Robinson

Professor Kathryn Robinson

Professor Kathryn Robinson, Emeritus professor in Anthropology, College of Asia and The Pacific, ANU

Understanding Islam in Eastern Indonesia: the Role of Village Imam

What is ‘Islam Nusantara’? Is there a single model of Islamic practice in Indonesia?  Until the 1990s, Geetz’s Religion of Java dominated anthropological understanding on Islam in Java and Indonesia generally. A body of anthropological research conducted at ANU by James Fox and a group of PhD scholars investigated local Islamic practices in a range of communities in Java. This produced a nuanced and complex picture of everyday religious practice which challenged many of the prevailing ides in anthropology. Taking this model, Robinson and other ANU scholars have completed research on an undertook an ARC Discovery project entitled ‘being Muslim in Eastern Indonesia. This project has explored ‘everyday Islam’ s in a variety of settings across the  eastern  archipelago. This paper reports on this project, focusing on the religious-and social- roles of village imam.


Kathryn Robinson is Emeritus Professor in Anthropology in the ANU College of Asia and the Pacific.  Her principal research has been in Indonesia, focusing on social issues  of mining,  everyday Islam, gender relations, youth transitions to adulthood and marriage migration. Her publications include Stepchildren of Progress: the Political Economy of Development in an Indonesian Mining Town (1986); Gender, Islam and Democracy in Indonesia (2009) and most recently edited volumes Youth Identities and Social Transformations in Modern Indonesia (2015); Making a Difference? Social Assessment Policy and Praxis and its Emergence in China (with Susanna Price)(2015) and Land and Development in Indonesia (ed with John McCarthy) 2016.  She was founding editor of The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology,  is a former president of the Asian Studies Association of  Australia  (2009-10)and has supervised  many  higher degree theses. In 2008 she received an Australian Teaching and Learning Council award for Excellence in Supervision.  For more see Professor Robinson’s staff profile.