Private Moralities in the Public Sphere: Democratization, Islam, and Gender in Indonesia



ABSTRACT  Over the past two decades, Indonesia has been transformed socially and politically by two major movements: the Islamic movement and the democratization movement. One point of convergence between these two movements has been a strong concern with establishing moral ascendancy over the perceived immorality of the previous regime and with building a new moral order as the foundation of a democratic nation. In this article, I examine how issues of gender and sexuality have become key arenas in which battles over competing views of democratization as well as Islamic morality are waged. I argue that amid an increasingly politicized division between liberal and conservative Islam, the struggle to gain symbolic control over public morality, and to acquire the political power that accompanies it, has rested in part on ideological contests between Muslim liberals and conservatives over the shifting boundaries and meanings of public and private in Indonesian society.