A comparative study of secularity

Dr Wendy Mee

This research explores how the relationship between the 'secular' and 'religious' is understood in different contexts. It is located within the broader study of the plurality of secular formations and secularist ideologies in the contemporary era. The research looks at how norms of piety are expressed through institutions and ideas commonly understood as 'secular', with a focus on the practices and orientations of Indonesian Muslim women activists.

As in many parts of the world, there has been a renewed emphasis on piety among Indonesian Muslims. Yet, Indonesia is not a Muslim state and secular institutions, commitments and political parties remain strong (even if contested, at times). The perspectives of pious Muslim women activists, who choose to work within secular institutions and discourses in Indonesia, challenge dominant conceptualisation of the secular (as something distinct from the religious) as well as the presumed relationship between secularisation and modernisation. For this reason, the comparative study of secularity is part of a deeper questioning and revision of the concept of modernity.


Mee, W (2016) 'The Social Lives of Religion and Gender in the Context of Development', Journal of Sustainable Development, Vol 26, Issue 2 (Special issue on 'Religion and Sustainable Development Policy').

Mee, W (2013) 'Secularity: A contribution to the study of heterogeneous modernity'. Refereed paper presented at TASA (The Australian Sociological Association) Conference, Monash University Caulfield. 25–28 November, 2013.

Mee, W and Joel .S. Kahn, Eds. (2012), Questioning Modernity in Indonesia and Malaysia, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press in association with Kyoto University Press, Japan.

Mee, W (2012) 'The Secular Politics of Piety'. Refereed paper presented at TASA (The Australian Sociological Association) Conference, University of Queensland. 26–29 November, 2012.


For further information about this project, please contact:

Dr Wendy Mee
Department of Social Inquiry
La Trobe University 
T: +61 3 9479 1703
E: w.mee@latrobe.edu.au