Understanding the floating ummah in neoliberal Indonesia

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In recent decades, politicians–particularly of the conservative kind–have been influential in binding together political support based on identity. Taking the case of the most populous Muslim country in the world and the largest democracy in Southeast Asia, Indonesia, this study analyses how Islamic identity has been instrumental during moments of political consolidation. It focuses on the way the political campaign industry uses social media to appeal to an otherwise fragmented ‘floating ummah’ (Hadiz, V. R. (2018). The ‘floating’ ummah in the fall of ‘Ahok’ in Indonesia. TRaNS: Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia, 7, 271–290), is an assemblage of believers unified momentarily against an abstract oppressor. The mobilisation of the floating ummah with social media, this article argues, has provided opportunities for marginal politicians to gain standing in an intra-elite struggle over power dominated by the oligarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-176
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Politics
Issue number2
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023


  • Floating ummah
  • identity politics
  • Indonesia
  • Islam
  • social media


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