"The making of a cosmopolitan Muslim place in Bangkok" by Dr Riyad Mustafa

Past Event

27 February 2013, 1:30pm - 2:30pm


This seminar series is hosted by the Oxford Programme for the Future of Cities, an Oxford Martin School Programme

Title: The making of a cosmopolitan Muslim place in Bangkok: Islam, metropolis, state, and the politics of belonging in Ban Krua community

Speaker: Dr Riyad Mustafa, postdoctoral associate, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology

Summary: The presentation is an overview of Dr Mustafa's doctoral thesis which examined the confluence of place, ritual, and politics in the Muslim community of Ban Krua in Bangkok, Thailand. He conducted ethnographic research there for fourteen months (March 2006 to May 2007). The gradual erosion of traditional power structures, and the threat to the community of forced eviction by the state, has forced the Muslims of Ban Krua to reconfigure the links between their Muslim identity and their urban locality. Since the threat of eviction was lifted, the links between place, ritual, and politics in constructing a sense of belonging have changed according to new social, economic, and political contexts (Islamic, urban, and national respectively). A new concept of belonging has been powerfully generated by a particular mosque, which is adapting old symbols as a moral commitment to 'others' to emphasize universal cosmopolitan ideals. His argument is that the ritualising of place, through the mosque’s more public events, is based on resisting earlier forms of power relations which were linked to patronage, hierarchical charismatic religious authority, or extra-legal leadership. The new place-making contexts, generated by the mosque, resist patronage and hold the state agents accountable by promoting the autonomy of the individual, freedom of choice, and the right of self-invention. The background to all of this is the way in which these Muslims’ relations with the Thai state are implicated in locals’ construction of place and belonging.

The meeting will start with a one hour seminar followed by a one hour potluck lunch. To contribute to the potluck, if you can, just bring along a dish representing your country/culture, or something easy you would like to share with the rest of the group. We will provide drinks.

If you would like to join the group and share your research please contact Ebru Soytemel: ebru.soytemel@insis.ox.ac.uk