Over the course of the past decade, the study of religious violence has evolved into a thriving industry of sorts. More than a field of academic research, religious violence is now a topic in which powerful US government agencies, major international institutions and all manner of 'think tanks' and foundations have developed an interest. This paper suggests an alternative approach, both in terms of the specific context of Indonesia and more broadly. This approach is rooted in a very different political, institutional and intellectual tradition from the dominant strands of the 'religious violence industry'. In terms of politics, the essential premise is a critical distance not only from the US-led 'Global War on Terrorism', but also from those avowedly secular, ecumenical or religiously tolerant and disinterested institutions that claim to be promoting conflict resolution and multi-faith religious coexistence and understanding in Indonesia and elsewhere around the world. In terms of institutional affiliations, the point of departure for the author's work is a sceptical view of large-scale research projects linked to major funding bodies, government agencies and other centres of state power; and in terms of intellectual foundations, the work here is rooted in the tradition of comparative historical sociology
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