Ph.D. Project Proposal:

Dancing to a Different Drum: Violent and Non-Violent Securitization by Banser and Jamaah Maiyah in Post-Reform Indonesia

In Indonesia, there is a long-standing tradition of security being an issue associated with civilian actors. This has arguably increased since the 1998 reformasi (reform), followed by the decline of the military-based authoritarian rule and a rapid process of democratization, leading to a situation where non-state actors have become even more prominent in terms of security provision to local communities. The study of non-state security actors has however predominantly emphasized the emergence and the development of civil militias, often focusing on Islamic hardline groups and analyzing their roles in policing society in a very limited manner. The proposed research project will focus on analyzing two different Islamic religious groups who have developed very different securitization approaches in response to the issue and practice of religious extremism as well as a wide range of broader security threats. The project will draw on comparative ethnography in two different socio-cultural contexts in East Java and Yogyakarta, in order to contrast the roles and practices of Banser, a well-known Muslim paramilitary group which provides security through violence, and Jamaah Maiyah, a new Islamic movement offering a non-violent approach. It is hoped that this comparison of the two groups’ everyday production of security strategies and engagement with Indonesian society will allow for a broader knowledge of the processes shaping security and securitization in contemporary post-reform Indonesia, and also contribute both empirically and conceptually to broadening securitization theory beyond “Westo-centric” understandings.  

Wider Project:

Securing the Local: The Role of Non-state Security Groups (NSSGs) in the Struggle Against Extremism in Kenya, Nigeria, and Indonesia.

This doctoral ethnographic work is part of the broader scope of the “Securing the Local” research project at AISSR/UvA, a multi-sited and multi-level comparative exploration of the role played by non-state security groups (NSSGs) in the provision of ‘human security’ in Fragile and C­onflict-affected states (FCAS) in contexts of religious violence in Indonesia, Nigeria, Kenya. This research project consists of comparative ethnographic fieldworks and beyond aimed to formulate a new theory of change looking at the potential inclusion of NSGGs in wider security arrangements to achieve higher efficacy all around and to deliver new evidence-based insights into the larger societal support, effect, critique, and understanding of such activities.        Read more:


Moving Matters: People, Goods, Power, and Ideas (MOMAT Research Group):

This project is conducted under supervision from the Department of Anthropology at Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), the University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands.  Read more: