Current Institutional Affiliation
Director of Advocacy and Knowledge Mangement, Syarif Hidayatullah State Islamic University Jakarta

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2007
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Harvard University
The Hajj, Reinvented: Pilgrimage, Mobility and Inter-state Organizations in Saudi Arabia and Indonesia

In recent years, enthusiasm for globalization has been tempered by greater critical scrutiny of the international behavior of states and their consequences, such as in international law and governance. In that spirit, my research asks: how does inter-state organization of the movement of people shape a world religion: their religious experience, their ritual practice, their religious beliefs, their demography? Through multi-sited ethnographic field research, this project addresses the question by examining the consequences of state-to-state organization of Muslim pilgrimage between Indonesia (which sends one of the largest contingents) and Saudi Arabia (the host). Since 1987, the unprecedented imposition of country-based quotas on the number of hajj pilgrims has been followed by dramatic developments: 1) a construction boom in pilgrimage sites; 2) a burgeoning pilgrimage bureaucracy in Saudi Arabia and the sending countries; 3) a new oligopoly of private tour companies; and 4) an increased circulation of pilgrimage literature. What drives this increase despite the problems? By focusing on Saudi and Indonesian state pilgrimage agencies, this research seeks to develop an anthropological understanding of how ritual has become a significant part of state performance and why adherents continue to draw meaning and motivation from world religions despite the ever-tighter organization of religion and population movements by worldly bureaucracies and markets on a global scale.