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Religions 2015, 6(2), 566-593; doi:10.3390/rel6020566

Syariah as Heterotopia: Responses from Muslim Women in Aceh, Indonesia

Division of Social Sciences and Humanities, Fayetteville Technical Community College, Rm 616-R 2201 Hull Rd. Fayetteville, NC 28303-0236, USA
Academic Editor: Peter I. Kaufman
Received: 3 March 2015 / Revised: 19 April 2015 / Accepted: 21 April 2015 / Published: 5 May 2015
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [364 KB, uploaded 5 May 2015]


In this paper, I argue that the implementation of syariah is best understood as a heterotopia by women in Aceh, Indonesia. The current debates over the role of syariah for women in Acehnese society focus on either a secular human rights critique of non-liberal norms that restrict the rights and freedom of women or a religiously prescribed defense of communal norms that protect women and society. Based on interviews, I identify three variants of how women conceive of and inhabit syariah in Aceh. Two of these variants are underrepresented in the current academic literature on syariah in Aceh. Two key distinctions are drawn between blueprint and iconoclastic utopian thought and state-centric and non-state-centric models of political legitimacy. Rethinking syariah as a “socio-spatial dialectic” allows for all three variants of syariah existing simultaneously as a heterotopia in Acehnese society. View Full-Text
Keywords: Islamic law; politics; feminism; utopian thought; Southeast Asia; subjectivity Islamic law; politics; feminism; utopian thought; Southeast Asia; subjectivity
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Taylor, R. Syariah as Heterotopia: Responses from Muslim Women in Aceh, Indonesia. Religions 2015, 6, 566-593.

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