Nur Amali Ibrahim

Associate Professor, Department of Religious Studies and Department of International Studies

Sycamore Hall 201


Ph.D., New York University, 2011
B.A. (First Class Honors), National University of Singapore, 2001

Research Interests

Professional Biography

I am an anthropologist of religion and politics who teaches in the Department of Religious Studies and the Department of International Studies. I recently completed a book project examining novel and unexpected ways of being Muslim, where religious dispositions are achieved through techniques that have little or no precedent in classical Islamic texts or concepts. The book is an ethnographic account of Indonesia, where progressive Muslims are behaving impiously and reading humanistic and social scientific books in order to rethink religion, while conservative Islamists are using Western techniques of accounting and self-help to develop religious puritanism. It is partly a story about Indonesia, where the deposal of President Suharto's authoritarian New Order regime in 1998 has opened up the imaginative terrain allowing these types of religious beliefs and practices to emerge. At the same time, I would suggest that the Indonesian case study, which occurs in a heightened and volatile political context, brings into sharper relief processes that are happening in ordinary Muslim life everywhere. To be a practitioner of their religion, Muslims draw on and are inspired by not only their holy scriptures, but also the non-traditional ideas and practices that circulate in their society, which importantly include those that originate in the West. In the contemporary political discourse where Muslims are often portrayed as uncompromising and adversarial to the West and where bans and walls are deemed necessary to keep them out, this story about flexible and creative Muslims is an important one to tell.


Courses Recently Taught

Publication Highlights


Improvisational Islam: Indonesian Youths in a Time of Possibility, (Cornell University Press, 2018).


"Everyday Authoritarianism: A Political Anthropology of Singapore". Forthcoming, 2018, Critical Asian Studies.

"Accounting for the Soul: Religious Improvisation in Democratic Indonesia". Forthcoming, summer 2018, Anthropological Quarterly.

"Questioning the New Secularism of the West: A commentary on Elizabeth Hurd’s “Beyond Religious Freedom: The New Global Politics of Religion.” 2017. Journal of Politics, Religion and Ideology. 18(1):107-109.

"Homophobic Muslims: Emerging Trends in Multireligious Singapore", Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2016;58(4):955–981.

Other Writings

The Problem with the “Moderate Muslim” Label. 2015. Spring Forum, Consortium for the Study of Religion, Ethics, and Society, Indiana University.


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