Mualaf Chic: Conversion and Mediation in Indonesian Pious Sociality
Scholars of the visible rise of public forms of Islamic piety movements in Indonesia in the past two decades have noted its transnational character. Unsurprisingly, Arab inspiration has been prominent, as direct clerical influence and indirect aesthetic prestige. In this article, I suggest that another feature of this shared religious community relays a slightly different allure, that of accessing and domesticating foreignness through conversion and cosmopolitanism. I analyze this through examples from pious fashion celebrities who have large and passionate Indonesian audiences. Analyzing two genres, Indonesian pious celebrities who amplify their appeal through situating themselves in foreign settings, and foreign converts to Islam who have large Indonesian social media audiences because of their adoption of Muslim piety, I ask how the affordances of fashion facilitate a unique process of accessing the allure of the foreign that preclude its total domestication. I focus particularly on the example of Ayana Jihye Moon, a Korean woman whose conversion to Islam has created a substantial Indonesian fan base. Her “ journey to Islam” suggests alternate circuits in contemporary Indonesian Islamic culture and by extension, the role of the foreign in Indonesian conceptions of authority.