D. (David) Kloos, MA

  • Position:PhD Researcher

Office hours: Irregular

Research interests



History and anthropology of Muslim Southeast Asia, particularly Aceh; Islamic thought and practice; colonial history; Female religious authority.



My PhD dissertation, which I am currently writing, is based on historical and anthropological research about (the history of) Islamic practice and ‘everyday’ Islam in Aceh, Indonesia. In my thesis, I focus on a long term process of ‘personalisation’ of religious practice and ethical improvement in Aceh since the eighteenth century until the present. I think this research is important for a variety of reasons. Currently, a lot of research is being conducted on political Islam, and much less on the experiences of ordinary Muslims without much power, influence or special kinds of authority. This is particularly true in Aceh, where this focus has resulted in scholarly and popular literature in a conflation of Islam and (violent) conflict. Rather than focusing exclusively on political or legal domains, I think it is important to investigate how officialised forms of religious thought and practice have interacted, in the past and in the present, with the ambiguities and ambivalences felt by many ordinary Muslims, whose personal concerns and moralities are deeply – but certainly not exclusively – influenced by an adherence to Islam.

For this project I spent a total of 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in two different locations in Aceh between 2008 and 2010. My archival research concentrates on the Dutch colonial archives in The Hague, the archive of the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Carribean Studies (KITLV), and the regional archives of Aceh province (Arsip Daerah) in Banda Aceh.



- 2012: Diachronic theme: religion and violence (1st yr BA; contribution)

- 2012: Islam in Southeast Asia (MA; together with Prof. Henk Schulte Nordholt).

- 2011: Islam in Southeast Asia (MA; together with Prof. Henk Schulte Nordholt).

- 2009: Humanities: Political visions on good society (1st yr BA).

- 2007: Water in World Cities (2nd yr BA). 


Visiting fellowship


- 2011: ANRC Visiting fellowship at the Australian National University, Canberra (Australia).

- 2009-2010: ARTI visiting fellowship at the Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh (Indonesia).


Research seminars


Global Encounters: research seminar series (VU University; organised jointly with Prof. Pal Nyiri and Erik van Ommering MA). See: http://www.fsw.vu.nl/en/departments/social-and-cultural-anthropology/research/global-encounters/index.asp

Muslim World-Making: research seminar series (VU University; organised jointly with Prof. Thijl Sunier and Daan Beekers MA). See: http://www.fsw.vu.nl/en/research/research-programmes/social-and-cultural-anthropology/muslim-world-making/index.asp



  • ‘Yeoh Seng Guan e.a. ed. Penang and its region: the story of an Asian entrepôt (Review)’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 167, 4 (2011).
  • ‘Supporting syariah, advancing women’, Inside Indonesia 101 (2010).
  • ‘Coeli Barry, ed. The many ways of being Muslim: Fiction by Muslim Filipinos (Review)’, Bijdragen tot de Taal-, Land- en Volkenkunde 165, 4 (2009), 570-72.


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