Islam and the Left in Indonesia and Turkey

Gebze, a district in Kocaeli, Turkey
Gebze, a district in Kocaeli, Turkey. Photo: Professor Vedi Hadiz


This study examines the transformation of the social bases of Left-wing politics into those of Islamic politics in two major Muslim-majority societies, Indonesia and Turkey. In both countries, outcomes of Cold War-era social conflict and subsequent global economic integration have facilitated this process. The study examines specific communities where such transformations have taken place, exploring the implications for democracy and social conflict. In Indonesia, the focus is on old communist party bases; in Turkey on former radical union strongholds. It links this to the broader question of why secular regimes, even after long periods of economic development, can give way to a politics based on identity and appeals to religion. While the purveyors of Islamic politics are becoming more influential in many Muslim-majority countries, they cannot be understood in isolation from social transformations, including attendant change in social aspirations, articulations of political demands and ongoing struggles for hegemony. By linking Islamic politics to socio-economic change and the demise of the Left at the level of communities, the study provides a unique lens to examine the conditions providing it fertile ground.


Professor Vedi Hadiz (University of Melbourne)

Themes related to this project