4/10/19 The Bureaucratization of Islam in Christian Philippines: The Everyday Politics of ‘Halal’ at the National Commission on Muslim Filipino

Wednesday April 10, 2019
12:30 PM – 1:45 PM

Chung-Wen Shih Conference Room Suite 503
The Elliott School of International Affairs
1957 E Street, NW, Washington, District Of Columbia 20052


With this case study in the bureaucratization of Islam in the form of the Philippine government’s National Commission on Muslim Filipinos (NCMF). Fauwaz Abdul Aziz seeks to understand the ‘everyday politics’ of NCMF bureaucrats in relation to the government and private sector’s push to promote, develop and institutionalize the country’s ‘halal’ food and non-food industry as they seek to tap into the growing domestic as well as global ‘Muslim market’. Grappling with contestations over the role of ‘ulama’ (religious scholars), the extent of personal and ‘tribal’ interests, and inequalities and marginalization, Abdul Aziz frames them within the context of the developmental, political economic and religious-cultural dynamics and contradictions of Catholic-majority Philippines. At the NCMF, ‘halal’ is the site of Muslim Filipinos’ multivalences over identity, authenticity, interests, and position in a nation-state that has yet to come to terms with the Muslim population in its midst, on the one hand, and their struggles to come to terms with the globalization and neo-liberalization of the halal industry, on the other.

About the Speaker:

Fauwaz Abdul Aziz is a PhD candidate jointly at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and the Institute for Oriental Studies at Leipzig University, both in Germany. He is one of a five-member Emmy Noether Research Project which studies ‘The Bureaucratization of Islam and its Socio-Legal Dimensions in Southeast Asia’ and that is led by Dr. Dominik Müller and funded by the German Research Foundation. Since graduating with his bachelor’s degree in political science (minoring in Islamic Studies) from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) in 2001, Fauwaz Abdul Aziz has taught secondary school history and geography, worked as a journalist for the independent Malaysiakini news organization, and served as researcher for a number of national and international development NGOs. He obtained an MA in Muslim World Issues from the Institute of Islamic Thought and Civilization (ISTAC) in 2013.

Janet Steele (Moderator) is an associate professor of journalism at the George Washington University and the director of the Institute for Public Diplomacy and Global Communication. She received her Ph.D. in History from the Johns Hopkins University and focuses on how culture is communicated through the mass media. Dr. Steele is a frequent visitor to Southeast Asia where she lectures on topics ranging from the role of the press in a democratic society to specialized courses on narrative journalism.

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