The Middle East-Asia Project (MAP) is an initiative undertaken by the Middle East Institute which is designed to serve two broad objectives:

1. To promote awareness and understanding of the multidimensional relations between the Middle East and Asia by providing information and analysis on cross-regional economic, political, security, and social/cultural interactions and their implications; and

2. To foster collaborative research and other activities regarding Middle East-Asia relations through establishing an online community of experts and forging institutional partnerships.

The Cyber Library contains publication details, abstracts and live links to full text versions of previously published works on Middle East-Asian affairs organized by country and by topic/issue.

The Experts Directory contains the profiles and contact details of a worldwide network of academics, business leaders, diplomats, journalists, researchers and other practitioners affiliated with the MAP.

The Infographics project element consists of periodically updated charts, tables and timelines depicting key trends and developments in trade, investment, migration, and other spheres of cross-regional activity.

The Publications element is organized as follows: (more…)

by Kathryn Zyskowski, Cultural Anthropology

Click here to read the five articles and interviews with the authors.

This collection gathers together five articles previously published in Cultural Anthropology, by Naveeda Khan, Hayder Al-Mohammad, Carolyn Rouse and Janet Hoskins, Kenneth George, and Arzoo Osanloo. The collection also includes interviews with the authors, who reflect on their work, as well a commentary on the whole collection from Charles Hirschkind. The articles engage with everyday aspects of living, negotiating, and constructing the world among contemporary Muslims. Moving beyond a focus on the aesthetics of dress, gender relations, or the text in Islam, the collection crosses national boundaries and thematic areas, touching on the immense diversity of nations, peoples, languages, and ideas that fall under the category of Islam. A broad array of ethnographic material is included in the collection: gathering to eat soul food in Los Angeles, navigating a kidnapping in post-invasion Iraq, a child’s relationship to a jinn (spirit/ghost) during sectarian violence in Karachi, discourses around justice in media and conversation surrounding a young man’s death sentence in Iran, and debates about the production of Islamic art in Indonesia.

A villager makes cow dung cakes used as cooking fuel at Maloya village on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Chandigarh on January 31, 2011; photograph by Ajay Verma / Reuters

[Webshaykh’s note: Here is a great story coming out of Indonesia about two young female science students contributing to society. I believe Marvin Harris would love this, as would anyone appreciates the Hindu doctrine of ahimsa. Yet another sacred cow sacrificed in the interest of science.]

Fermented Cow Dung Air Freshener Wins Two Students Top Science Prize

by Kimberley Mok,, March 16, 2013

Conventional air fresheners are known for their toxic soup of chemicals that may be linked with asthma, reproductive disorders and even lung disease. While there’s no shortage of environmentally-friendly and human-healthy air fresheners on the market, two Indonesian science students are behind a rather bizarre concoction that you may be seeing soon: an affordable air freshener made from cow dung.

Yes, cow dung — as weird as it sounds, the formulation actually has a pleasant herbal smell, and has won Dwi Nailul Izzah and Rintya Aprianti Miki a gold medal at Indonesia’s Science Project Olympiad (ISPO). According to Oddity Central, the young women overcame 1,000 other competitors with their surprising freshener, which was painstakingly created by collecting unused cow manure from a cattle farm and fermenting it for three days:

Then they extracted the water from the fermented manure and mixed it with coconut water. Finally, they distilled the liquid to eliminate all impurities. The whole process took 7 days, which is pretty long, but in the end they obtained what they were looking for – a liquid air freshener with an herbal aroma from digested cow food. (more…)

by Kevin W. Fogg

Late last month, the head of Indonesia’s most prominent Islamic political party, the Prosperous Justice Party or PKS (Partai Keadilan Sejahtera), was arrested in connection to a corruption scandal over importation licenses. His arrest made it the first time that the chairperson of any party has been arrested for corruption, even though the chairmen of some secular parties have also been getting some heat. The arrest of Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq elicited shock from across the Indonesian political spectrum, and even accusations by PKS members of a vast Zionist conspiracy to bring down the Islamic party, among other allegations of selective investigation of corruption.

Why is the arrest of Luthfi of the PKS more than your average corruption scandal? Well, it has plenty of juicy elements, like how Luthfi’s aide was arrested completely unclothed while in the company of a 19-year-old young college woman, who is not one of his alleged five wives but was also completely unclothed.

More seriously, though, the case is important is it gives the Corruption Eradication Commission a reason to investigate PKS more broadly, which could turn up more corruption. Many people are speculating that the PKS-aligned Minister of Agriculture (whose ministry oversees the import licenses) could go down over this scandal – the second time a minister would fall because of corruption in the last few months. (more…)

by Kevin Fogg

In the last week, as protests have flared around the Muslim world about the film Innocence of Muslims, Indonesia has not been left out. Protests in Jakarta and Surabaya (the capital and second largest city, respectively) on Friday and Saturday were led by the group Hizbut Tahrir. Today more violent protests flared at the US Consulate in Medan and again at the US Embassy in Jakarta, where police arrested four instigators from the frequently-unruly group Front Pembela Islam (Islamic Defenders’ Front).

Since democratization in 1998, Indonesians (especially those in Jakarta, but also in other cities) have not been shy about protesting. Protests in front of the American Embassy (which also faces the central square in Jakarta and the site of most major protests) are not uncommon, but other countries are also frequently the target of protests, including majority-Muslim countries like Malaysia. Most of these protests about overseas issues have no impact on government policy, or on the issues that they are protesting about, but one case this summer shows the flip side of the coin: protests that became productive in international relations

Indonesians were outraged at news in June and July about sectarian clashes involving the Muslim Rohingya minority in Burma. These deaths were not the worst in the ongoing struggles of the Rohingya–involving denied refugee status, limitations on international aid, years of discrimination, and other woes–but the opening of the press in Myanmar allowed news on the conflict, which fed into Indonesian Muslim outrage. Not sparing anyone in their anger, Indonesians even loudly criticized Nobel Prize Winner Aung San Suu Kyi for not paying enough attention to this issue. This led in August to several demonstrations across the country, even including the leader of the national Indonesian Ulama Council. Indonesian attention has kept up since the initial news, too, with the largest Islamically-minded paper in the country hosting a special page for news on the “Rohingya Tragedy,” with new articles almost every day. (more…)

Indonesian women’s rights groups said they were outraged by the comments and called for a stop to the demonization of rape victims

Why is it that men blame women for their own failures? Whenever I hear a variant of the phrase, “Well, he couldn’t help himself,” I can’t but think that this excuse is in need of a lot of help. In Indonesia there is a bill being considered in parliament that would ban female lawmakers from wearing provocative clothing, such as miniskirts. Given that the number of Indonesian lawmakers wearing miniskirts must be a whopping minority, why is this needed? Here is the rationale:

“We know there have been a lot of rape cases and other immoral acts recently, and this is because women aren’t wearing appropriate clothes,” house of representatives speaker Marzuki Alie said.

“Women wearing inappropriate clothes arouse men, so it needs to be stopped. You know what men are like — provocative clothing will make them do things.”

So men rape women because women wear miniskirts. I have not seen the statistics, but I suspect the majority of women in Indonesia do not fall for the idea that all they have to do is dress conservatively and there will be no danger of a man raping them. This notion that the male rapist cannot really be blamed because “provocative clothing will make them do things” is not limited to any national or religious group. What is rather bizarre in this case is that the ban would only be to protect male lawmakers and not for the public at large. So either there is an epidemic of male lawmakers raping female lawmakers in Indonesia or these males are so easily aroused that the ban need only be to stop those provocative female lawmakers. I guess once outside the parliament building, male lawmakers can contain themselves. (more…)

A novel, even comic, approach to combating terrorist acts by extremist Muslims in South Asia is currently underway in Indonesia. This is a comic book about Ali Imran, who engineered the 2002 bombing of a hotel in Bali. Through the life story of the bomber, the story urges young Muslims not to be duped by anyone praising suicide bombing as an Islamic duty. For a video account of the book on Al Jazeera, click here.

Last fall Duke University Press published the Ph.D. thesis of S. Ann Dunham, President Obama’s mother, who just happened to be an anthropologist. I can certainly sympathize with the editors, as my own dissertation also bordered on the 700 page level (which may be one reason it was never published as a book). Details on the book can be found at Duke University Press. But I attach here a valuable account by Michael Dove for the New York Times last August.

Dreams From His Mother

By Michael R. Dove, The New York Times, August 10, 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA’s late mother, Ann Dunham Soetoro, was famous for the good cheer and optimism that she preserved in the face of a complex and challenging world. Her personality went hand-in-hand with her career as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Pakistan, where she studied and worked with village craftsmen, slum-dwellers and countless others. I knew Dr. Soetoro as a friend and colleague for many years before her death from cancer in 1995. Though I only met her son once, briefly at her memorial service, I’ve watched him as he’s taken on the hardest job in the world, and often found myself wondering how her worldview might have shaped him. (more…)

Next Page »