Professor Julia Day Howell
Professor of the Sociology of Religion
Julia Howell is a specialist in the Anthropology and Sociology of Religion who has worked for over thirty years on movements of religious reform in Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim majority society, and on New Religious Movements both in Indonesia and the West. Born in the USA, she did her undergraduate studies at Smith College and George Washington University. She went on to do her postgraduate studies at the London School of Economics and at Stanford University, from which she received her MA and PhD. She has recently come to UWS from Griffith University, Brisbane, where she taught Asian Studies.
Her early research on Indonesia focused on conversions of Javanese people to the newly recognised Hindu and Buddhist religions, and on the eclectic mystical groups. In the 1990s she turned her attention to mainline Islam, pioneering studies of the urban Sufi revival and contemporary forms of spirituality among urban cosmopolitans, and contributing to emerging studies of Islamic televangelism and the marketing of Islamic personal and business development programs. She has also researched Asian New Religious Movements in Australia, working with colleagues in Psychology.
She has published widely in the leading international journals and her articles have been reprinted in major scholarly compendia of work in her fields. Her edited volume, Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam (with Martin van Bruinessen), has been translated into Indonesian, as have several of her chapters and essays.
BA (George Washington); MA (Stanford); PhD (Stanford)
Areas of Expertise
Sociology; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Religion, society and modernity; Indonesian studies; Sociology of Islam; Sufism; Asian New Religious Movements in Western societies; Spiritual practices and religious experiences; Gender studies
2008 Urban Sufism, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell (jointly), Jakarta, Rajawali Press.
2007 Sufism and the "Modern" in Islam, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, London: I.B. Tauris.
Refereed Journal Articles
(Forthcoming) "'Calling' and Training: Role Innovation and Religious De-differentiation in Commercialised Indonesian Islam". Journal of Contemporary Religion.
Howell, J. (2015). 'Revival Ritual and the Mobilization of Late-modern Islamic Selves'. Journal of Religious and Political Practice. 1, 1: 47-57
Howell, J. (2014). 'Christendom, the Ummah and Communityin the Age of Televangelism'. Social Compass. 61. 2: 234-249
Howell, J. (2013) "'Calling' and Training: Role Innovation and Religious De-differentiation in Commercialised Indonesian Islam". Journal of Contemporary Religion. 28, 3: 401-419
Howell, J. (2012), "Introduction: Sufism and neo-Sufism in Indonesia today", Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, vol 46, no 2, pp 1-24.
Zamhari, A. and Howell, J. (2012). "Taking Sufism to the streets : majelis zikir and majelis salawat as new venues for popular Islamic piety in Indonesia", Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs, vol 46, no 2, pp 47-75.
2010 "Indonesia's Salafist Sufis." Modern Asian Studies (Cambridge, UK) 44, 5.
2006 "The New Spiritualities East and West: Colonial Legacies and Changing Patterns of Glocalisation." Australian Religion Studies Review 19, 1.
2006 "Many Paths to God and Modernity: Of Sufism, Syncretism and Universalism in Twentieth Century Indonesian Islam." (Condensed reprint.) Revue Esprit (Paris).
2005 "Muslims, the New Age and Marginal Religions in Indonesia: Changing Meanings of Religious Pluralism." Social Compass, published by Sage for the Soci't' Internationale de Sociologie des Religions (International Society for the Sociology of Religion), Leuven, Belgium.(52, 4: 473-493.)
2005 "Urban Heirs of Ibn al-'Arabi and the Defence of Religious Pluralism in Indonesia." Australian Religion Studies Review 18, 2 (Nov/Dec 2005).
2001 "New Faces of Indonesian Sufism: A Demographic Profile of Tarekat Qodiriyyah-Naqsyabandiyyah, Pesantren Suryalaya in the 1990s." Review of Indonesian and Malaysian Affairs 35, 2:33-60. (With M.A. Subandi, 2nd author, and Peter L. Nelson, 3rd author.)
2001 "Sufism and the Indonesian Islamic Revival." (PDF 148k)2 Journal of Asian Studies 60, 3 (August):701-729.
2000 "Reason and Religion in Post-Modern Societies: New Prospects for Complementarity." Ihya 'Ulum al-Din (Semarang) 2, 2 (December):197-210. ISSN:1411-3708.
2000 "The Brahma Kumaris in the Western World, Part II: Demographic Change and Secularization in an Asian New Religious Movement." Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion 11:225-239. Greenwich, Conn.: Jai Press. (With Peter L. Nelson)
1998 "Gender Role Experimentation in New Religious Movements: The Case of the Brahma Kumaris." Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 37, 3:453-461.
1997 "ASC Induction Techniques, Religious Experiences and Commitment to New Religious Movements." Sociology of Religion (Washington, D.C.) 58, 2 (Summer):141-164.
Howell, J. (2017, forthcoming). 'Contemporary Da'wa and the State in Southeast Asia.' In Malik, J. and Weismann, I (Eds.) Da'wa: Preaching Islam in the Modern World, London: Oxford University Press.
Howell, J. (2015). 'Revitalised Sufism and the new piety movementsin Islamic Southeast Asia' in Turner, B. S. and Salemink, S. (eds.) Routledge Handbook of Religions in Asia, Routledge, Abingdon UK, pp 276 – 292
Howell, J. (2015). 'Contrasting Regimes of Sufi Prayer and Emotion Work in the Indonesian Islamic Revival' in Giordan, G. and Woodhead, L. (eds.) A Sociology of Prayer, pp 97-118
Howell, J. (2013), "Pluralist currents and counter-currents in the Indonesian mass media: the case of Anand Krishna" in Formichi, C. and Finucane, J. Religious Pluralism, State and Society in Asia, London, Routledge, pp 216-235.
2010 "Variasi-Variasi Kesalehan Aktif: Professor dan Pendakwah Televisi Sebagai Penganjur "Sufisme" Indonesia" in Menyatakan Islam: Kehidupan Keagamaan dan Politik di Indonesia, ed. by Greg Fealy and Sally White. (Indonesia translation of the author's chapter "Modulating Active Piety" in Expressing Islam (2008).
2009 "The New Spiritualities, East and West: Colonial Legacies and the Global Spiritual Marketplace in Southeast Asia." In Southeast Asian Islam: Histories, Cultures, and Identities, edited by Joseph Chinyong Liow and Nadirsyah Hosen. Routledge Islam in Southeast Asia Series, Volume 1, London, Routledge (Reprint of the author's 2006 article in the Australian Religion Studies Review.)
2008 "Sufisme dan 'Yang Modern'" in Urban Sufism, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell, Jakarta, Rajawali Press, pp. 1-32 (with Martin van Bruinessen as second author).
2008 "Sufism and the Indonesian Islamic Revival." In Sufism: Critical Concepts ed. by Lloyd Ridgeon. London: Routledge.
2008 "Modulations of Active Piety: Professors and Televangelists as Promoters of Indonesian 'Sufisme'." In Expressing Islam: Religious Life and Politics in Indonesia, ed. by Greg Fealy and Sally White. Singapore: ISEAS Press, pp. 40-62.
2007 "Between 'Jihad' and 'McWorld': Engaged Sufism in Indonesia." In Islam and Political Violence, edited by Shahram Akbarzadeh, and Fethi Mansouri. London: I.B. Tauris, pages 165-179.
2007 "Introduction." In Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell. London: Routledge (with Martin van Bruinessen).
2007 "Modernity and Islamic Spirituality in Indonesia's New Sufi Networks." In Sufism and the 'Modern' in Islam, edited by Martin van Bruinessen and Julia Day Howell. London: Routledge.
2005 "Sufisme dan Islam Liberal" [Sufism and Liberal Islam]. In Islam, Negara dan Civil Society: Gerakan dan Pemikiran Islam Kontemporer [Islam, State and Civil Society: Contemporary Islamic Movements and Thought], edited by Komaruddin Hidayat and Ahmad Gaus, AF. Jakarta: Paramadina, pages 441-462.
2005 "Gender in New Religious Movements." In Encyclopedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (1000 word essay)
2000 "Religion." In Culture and Society in the Asia-Pacific, edited by Richard Maidment and Colin Mackerras. London: Routledge, pages 115-140.
2000 "Religious Traditions in Asia." In Eastern Asia, An Introductory History, 3rd edition, edited by Colin Mackerras. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, pages 51-64 (with David Schak, 2nd author).
2000 "The Role of Religions in Modernizing Asia." In Eastern Asia, An Introductory History, 3rd edition, edited by Colin Mackerras. Melbourne: Longman Cheshire, pages 405-415 (with David Schak, 2nd author).
1998 "Religion." In Culture and Society in the Asia-Pacific, edited by Richard Maidment and Colin Mackerras. London: Routledge, pp. 115-140.
1998 "Indonesian Sufism: Signs of Resurgence." In New Trends and Developments in the World of Islam, edited by Peter B. Clarke. London: Luzac Oriental. (with M.A. Subandi, and Peter L. Nelson, pp. 277-298.
Refereed Conference Proceedings
2006. "Religions in the Public Sphere: Benefits and Risks in Modern Nation States." Proceedings of the Second International Conference of Islamic Scholars, Jakarta (June 19 – 22, 2006). Jakarta: PBNU [Central Council of the Islamic Scholars Association].
2004 "Spirituality vs 'Religion' Indonesian Style: Framing and Reframing Experiential Religiosity in Contemporary Indonesia." (PDF 52k)4 Conference Proceedings for the 2004 meeting of the Asian Studies Association of Australia. (Web published refereed papers)
2002 "Seeking Sufism in the Global City: Indonesia's Cosmopolitan Muslims and Depth Spirituality." (PDF 221k)5 Proceedings from the international conference on "Islam in Southeast Asia and China: Regional Faithlines and Faultlines in the Global Ummah " run by the City University of Hong Kong's Southeast Asia Research Centre, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences. Hong Kong, 28 November to 1 December 2002.
Essays and Short Entries in Reference Works
2011 "Neo-Sufism." In Encyclopedia of Global Religion, edited by Wade Clark Roof and Mark Juergensmeyer. Sage Publishers. (500 word essay)
2010 "Sufism in the Modern World" Entry Page ("Focus On") essay for the Oxford Islamic Studies On-line. (OISO) digital resource, posted as the lead essay to the site from Nov 2010 – Feb 2011; thereafter moved to the pages of the collected Focus On essays. (2250 word essay)
2005 "Gender in New Religious Movements." In Encyclopaedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (1000 word essay)
2005 "Brahma Kumaris." In Encyclopaedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (750 word entry)
2005 "Dada Lekhraj." In Encyclopaedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (350 word entry)"Subud." In Encyclopaedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (750 word entry)
2005 "Latihan." In Encyclopaedia of New Religious Movements edited by Peter Clarke. London: Routledge. (350 word entry)
1998 "Kebatinan and the Kejawen Traditions." In Religion and Ritual volume of the Indonesian Heritage Series, edited by James J. Fox. Singapore: Vivien Crump, Editions Didier Millet, Archipelago Press, pp. 62-63.
2010 "Televangelists, True Believers, Feminists and Martyrs: The Kaleidescope of Indonesia's Modern Islam." Keynote lecture at the Australian Association of Religious Educator's National Conference, Gold Coast, QLD, 29 September – 1 October 2010.
2009 "Urban Sufism in Contemporary Indonesia." Keynote lecture at the conference "Urban Sufisme: Gairah Spiritual atau Eskapisme?" held organized by the Department of Philosophy and Religion of Paramadina University (Jakarta) for the University's 11th anniversary conference and public forum series, 21-22 January.
2008 "Buya Hamka, Revitalisation of Tasawuf/Sufism and its Relevance in Modern Indonesia." Keynote speaker at the 100th Anniversary Celebration Conference on Buya Hamka. Universitas Muhammadiyah (Hamka) (UHAMKA), Jakarta. 8 April 2008.
2008 "Active Piety in Contemporary 'Sufistik' Televangelism." Keynote lecture at the Seminar "The Changing Role of Sufism in Contemporary Indonesian Piety" held by the State Islamic Institute (IAIN) Sunan Ampel, Surabaya, at the launch of the Institute's journal, Journal of Indonesian Islam. Semarang, 11 April 2008.
Member of Editorial Boards
ABC-Clio Encyclopedia of the World's Religions (in collaboration with the Institute for the Study of American Religion), 2008+
Journal of Indonesian Islam (IAIN Surabaya), 2008+
Open Area Studies Journal (opens in a new window) (Bentham Science Publishers, London), 2008+
Journal of Contemporary Religion (opens in a new window) (London), 2002+
Religious Traditions, 1984-1986
Association for the Sociology of Religion (Washington, D.C.)
ARC Asia Pacific Futures Network