Accepted Paper:

The (im)morality of Facebook: Indonesian Muslim women shaping piety   


Hanny Savitri Hartono (Massey University)

Paper Short Abstract:

Facebook has been contested in Indonesia amidst the Muslim community, mostly on grounds of its moral effects. This paper explores the moral meanings of Facebook for Muslim mothers in light of their understanding of their identity, piety and roles as Muslim women and mothers.

Paper long abstract:

Since the fall of the New Order regime in 1998, the media landscape of Indonesia has been radically transformed. The country is now a highly media saturated space in which people are exposed to numerous media from television programming to social media such as Facebook. In a space in which media are just a click or tap away, Muslim women, consciously or not, seek to negotiate the media they are exposed to in the context of their everyday lives within the frame of their Islamic understanding. As media become increasingly contested, their identity and piety are negotiated within their roles as Muslim women and mothers.

In this paper I explore the meanings of Facebook for Muslim mothers in which morality is the core. This presentation is based on my current ethnographic research on Muslim mothers, Indonesian media and piety in which I combine fieldwork in Semarang, Central Java and online discussions on a Facebook closed group. One of the topics I discuss is the way Muslim women are actively shaping piety through Facebook. Even though Islamic clerics discouraged Muslims to use Facebook for its temptations to lure users into inciting gossip and participating in talks, which could jeopardise their marriage, my Muslim participants utilise Facebook to improve their roles as Muslim women and mothers, instead. Hence, Facebook becomes a site where Muslim mothers define, negotiate and (re)define their kodrat and fitrah as Muslim women and mothers.

Panel Hier03
Contestations of gender, sexuality and morality in contemporary Indonesia