Call for Papers for Conference on “Trendsetters of Islam in Maritime Southeast Asia: Emerging Discourses and Trending Ideologues”

Maritime Southeast Asia has long been a region for the cross-pollination of Islamic ideas. Located along the essential trade route of the Straits of Malacca, connecting East and West, it has been the hotbed of competing Islamic ideologies such as Sufism, Salafism, and Shi’ism. These Islamic ideologies have crisscrossed with different trends like traditionalism, authoritarianism, progressivism, and more. Today, some would argue that Southeast Asia has evolved from being the smiling face of Islam to one of conservatism, but others contend that progressives and moderates continue to hold the ground and should thus be the models of their Muslim brothers in the Middle East.

With globalization and new digital mediums, the transmission, reception, and understanding of Islamic ideas are being fundamentally changed. While policymakers have paid much attention to radical ideas and how they spread through social media and the Internet, as well as their potential to inspire terrorism or violence, the longer-term concern is how these new Islamic ideas can shape politics and socio-religious life away from the scrutiny of the state and analysts. They can even have an impact on other aspects of life such as popular culture and ideas on human development. The fact that Southeast Asian states are mostly multicultural makes the examination of emerging discourses and trends more pertinent.

This conference examines the emerging discourses in several countries in Southeast Asia: namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, Brunei, and Thailand. It has two objectives: (1) to map out emerging ideas from these countries; to know how these ideas are acquired and then transmitted, and to analyze which ones dominate and in which spheres; (2) to examine the transmitters of new trends, which include key personalities, groups or institutions to watch.

We welcome papers based on the following questions:

What are the forces/trends driving extremism in Southeast Asia? How does the rapidly changing political situation in these countries affect social cohesion?

1. What are the forces/trends driving extremism in Southeast Asia? How does the rapidly changing political situation in these countries affect social cohesion?

2. To what extent are Islamic extreme and segregationist ideologies becoming more mainstream? How are certain groups/individuals using social media to transmit their ideas, and what impact does this have on Islamic discourse? Are there competing discourses to counter extremism? If these discourses do exist, how are they transmitted?

3. How are Muslim mass movements and organisations competing domestically with one another, and how do the ideas of their ideologues (domestic and international) as well as constituencies compare and contrast with one another?

4. Which public intellectuals and organisations in Southeast Asia are advancing progressive ideas on Islam? How well are they received? How do they and their ideas compare and contrast with one another especially on the issue of pluralistic and secular living in other contemporary societies?

Venue and Date

Venue: TBC

Date: 18-19 July 2022

Important Dates

Deadline for abstract submission: 30 November 2021

Notification of accepted abstracts: 17 December 2021

Submission of Full Paper: 13 May 2022

Abstract Submissions

We invite contributors to submit an abstract of 300 words. Abstracts should include proposed research questions, main argument, and methodology. Submissions should also include a title, name of author, institutional affiliation, e-mail address, and a personal biography of 150 words. *They should be submitted to

Those whose abstracts are accepted will be expected to submit a full paper of between 5000-7000 words. Selected papers will later be included in an edited volume. Every presenter is also required to submit a short Opinion piece (800 words) for ISEAS Fulcrum.


Dr Norshahril Saat (Senior Fellow, ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr A’an Suryana (Visiting Fellow, (ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

Dr Mohd Faizal Musa (Visiting Fellow, (ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)


Nov 30 2021