Where: Dialogue Society, London
by Carool Kersten, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Kings College London
Media coverage of current affairs affecting the Islamic world or ‘Muslim diaspora’ in the West is not only primarily focuses on political Islam, but also tends to amplify its radicalized and extremist aspects. Much less attention is paid to other strands of thought, especially when they are outside the immediate purview of the political.
These alternative discourses appear to be particularly vibrant on the geographical peripheries of the Muslim world. This presentation explores the emergence of ‘new Muslim intellectuals’ in Indonesia during the final decades of the twentieth century and at the beginning of the new millennium. As a secondary thesis it suggests that, in spite of vast cultural differences, there are some remarkable similarities between the contemporary Indonesian and Turkish experiences.
Originally from the Netherlands, Carool Kersten has studied and worked in five different countries on three continents. After obtaining an MA in Arabic Language and Culture (Radboud University Nijmegen), followed by a brief stint in Egypt, he worked for twelve years in the international construction industry, spending over a decade as a personnel manager in Saudi Arabia. This was interrupted by a sabbatical year during which he did graduate work in philosophy.
At the beginning of the millennium he opted for a radical career change, deciding that academia, although less well paid, promised to be more rewarding in other respects. Between 2001 and 2006 he taught Southeast Asian history and religion at Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand. He also acted as the academic director (Thailand) for a US-based organisation facilitating study-abroad programmes in thirteen countries.
Carool Kersten is a PhD candidate in the Study of Religions at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), where he is completing a thesis on three present-day Muslim thinkers. He is currently a Lecturer in Islamic Studies at Kings College London.