Panel 7 – COVID19

Panel 7 – COVID-19: From Old Imaginations to New Practices

The COVID-19 crisis involves unprecedented challenges that will have a significant impact on global affairs. The current needs are immediate and urgent, requiring action to protect communities’ health and pay longer-term attention to the structural problems that the crisis has revealed. In Southeast Asia, the political verticality and the weakening of the growing challenges faced by civil society actors make it even more difficult for citizens to directly control how government institutions have chosen to deal with these problems. Many social and cultural dimensions of the pandemic have become obscured, and the voices of social scientists and even public health experts seem to be muted. From the top to down, measures have been implemented with little discussion of their contextual relevance, implications, and impacts. Grassroots groups and local community organizations are at the heart of breaking the chains of transmission and may play essential roles on all dimensions. They tap into their cultural idioms and social capital to come to terms with the unprecedented limitations that COVID-19 has imposed on their daily lives and rituals. They foster a culture of collective security in contexts often constrained with little or no attention from the government. In this panel, we present how Southeast Asian populations struggle over the health crisis and at the same time have to deal with authoritarian tendencies and government reactions.

  • In the context of survival and critical socio-economic situations, how do the different social groups organize to react to the lack of political, material, and infrastructural support?
  • How do the innovative ways of protection, care, and healing, connect to broader imaginations and narratives, for example, regarding the themes of religious salvation, social justice, or the emancipation of the subject?
  • What challenges do they face to promote religious or gender progressive understanding in front of dynamics of discrimination and exclusion?


Host institution: Ateneo de Manila University (Backup: ALTERSEA)

Chairperson: Mary Racelis (Ateneo de Manila University)


Andar Nubowo (ENS de Lyon, France)Covid-19, Fatwas, and Socio-religious Praxis:  Muhammadiyah’s Social Mission and Engagement in Coping with the Outbreak in Indonesia

Abstract: Dubbed as the largest modernist Islamic organization in Indonesia with approximately 30 million members, Muhammadiyah has recently been challenged to prove its progressive understanding of Islam during the COVID-19. Since March 2020, the organization, founded on 12 November 1912 in Yogyakarta, has issued religious fatwas and policies to adjust its religious and social activities during the sanitary crisis. However, its fatwas on COVID-19 were an object of virulent critics and opposition from conservative elements, who believe in a conspiracy theory that COVID-19 is being made to destruct Islam. Nevertheless, through the Department of Fatwas (Majelis Tarjih), Muhammadiyah philanthropic body (LAZISMU), and Muhammadiyah COVID-19 Command Centre (MCCC), Muhammadiyah continues to boost public consciousness of the virus’s danger and mortality. The paper, thus, seeks to discover why and how the organization adapts new circumstances in its rituals, new sites of worship, and, at the same time, fights against religious ignorance and hoaxes around the COVID-19. It also seeks to figure out how Muhammadiyah mobilizes its networks and resources to deal with the outbreak and opposition. Finally, it will examine its relationship with state actors and non-state actors, nationally and internationally, to face the impacts of such a very contagious new H1N1. Drawing upon Muhammadiyah’s official fatwas, policies, statements, and socio-religious praxis, this paper finds that Muhammadiyah’s social mission and engagement during the pandemic are based on its progressive and rational belief system. It also argues that Muhammadiyah, as a faith-based NGO plays, discursively and practically, significant roles in providing creative ways of protection, care, healing, salvation, and enlightenment, which could be understood in the frame of its socio-religious mission and praxis to saving people and addressing these unprecedented circumstances.

Keywords: Muhammadiyah, fatwas, philanthropy, social mission and praxis, COVID-19, Indonesian Islam. 

Bio & Contact: Andar Nubowo is a PhD Student at ENS de Lyon France; Executive Director of Lazismu, Muhammadiyah, Indonesia (2016-2018).

Video presentation

Theresia Pratiwi Elingsetyo Sanubari & Galuh Ambar Sasi (Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana, Indonesia) Public kitchen during a pandemic: identities collaboration for food justice

Abstract: COVID-19 leads to serious consequences for the economy, health, and food at the global level. In addition, the crisis brings back memories. Originally, the Indonesian community created a public kitchen as a commonplace for women to provide food to their community during crises. Over time, various conditions, such as globalization, urged the alteration of public kitchen experiences. Focusing on transgender males to females (MtF), this study aims to explore the existence of public kitchens to enhance food justice possibly. Data were collected from an in-depth interview with the first public kitchen initiators in Jakarta, showing that public kitchen presence during the pandemic has led to a food discourse involving LGBT groups. The inclusion of diverse identities in this food practice encourages food and nutrition sustainability for marginalized communities. Moreover, the role of the public kitchen potentially transforms from solely women’s identity to include the LGBT gender minority into that space. The popularity of public kitchens during the pandemic has gained the interest of social media. As a new actor, transgender MtF changes the standard image of a public kitchen as primarily a form of solidarity based largely on economic profit, highlighting collaboration within gender categories. It generates the potential to drive food inclusivity into alternative advocacy opportunities that recognize favorably LGBT identity. Regrettably, this progressive inclusivity faces challenges stemming from continuing social and gender discrimination based on the binary concept of food based on one’s sex. The advocacy process for inclusion is thus also affected. 

Keywords: food inclusivity, food justice, identity, transgender MtF, public kitchen. 

Bio & Contact: Theresia Pratiwi Elingsetyo Sanubari graduated with a master’s in Public health with competence in observing minority communities for almost eight years and involving in food issues for four years. She is knowledgeable in community and policy problems and using an interdisciplinary approach to find gaps. She used to work with an NGO and study center with experienced activists and excellent professional program makers.

Galuh Ambar Sasi is Graduated as Master of Art at Universitas Gadjah Mada. She authored some articles, such as; Geliat Pewarisan Sejarah Masyarakat Urban di Beranda Belakang Keraton (2013); Menyuap Nasi, Mencerna Memori: Memori Kolektif Hongeroedeem (2014), Penyebarluasan Berita Proklamasi di Jawa Tengah (2015); Di Tanah Kiblik: Perempuan Yogyakarta dalam Ge(mer)lap Revolusi (2017); also Menjadi (Manusia) Indonesia: Pergulatan Identitas, Jejaring, dan Relasi Perempuan di Yogyakarta pada Masa Revolusi.

Video presentation

Michael Charleston “Xiao” B. Chua (De La Salle University, Philippines) – SALYA:  Bayanihan and Order in the Traslacion of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno in Quiapo, Manila

Abstract: Order and bayanihan are words that are not easily associated with the “Traslacion” procession of the Nuestro Padre Jesus Nazareno (also known as the Black Nazarene) of Quiapo District, City of Manila, in the Philippines every 9 January. The media, both local and international, seem to be in awe at the overwhelming and passionate display of devotion, or “mamamasan” to the image. Some of them describe the fervor of millions as “crazy” and the devotees, “fanatics” – all this said with a tone of condescension, even  from some in the church and the academe. The presentation will highlight the various ways bayanihan, or coming together, and order are manifested in the procession, highlighting the devotees’ concept of “salya.” This refers to the overwhelmingly male community pushing of the andas, or carriage,-bier of the image to take  it in the right direction or move it forward.  The researcher applies the phenomenon then to a deeper sense of the “Traslacion” itself as a total social fact: the various elements of society—the church, the state and the private sector collaborating with the participants to “salya” this international event to its safe and peaceful conclusion every year. The presentation highlights the emic perspective in Filipino worship.

Bio & Contact: Michael Charleston “Xiao” B. Chua is the most active public historian on Philippine television and one of the most visible history speakers in social media and cyberspace in the time of the COVID-19 pandemic.  He is Assistant Professorial Lecturer at the De La Salle University-Manila Department of History and senior lecturer at the University of the Philippines-Diliman Department of Broadcast Communication.  He holds a BA and MA History and is a Ph.D. Anthropology candidate  at UP-Diliman. Author and co-author of various popular and academic publications, he has spoken around the country on a range of  historical topics, serving also as an occasional tour guide and historian-on-board.  He is a consultant for various historical shows and dramas and hosts his own daily historical segment in a Philippine news program used by teachers and students on YouTube to help them learn their country’s history.