In this remarkable book, David Kloos draws from extensive archival research and ethnographic fieldwork to offer important insights about religious authority and personal piety in Aceh, Indonesia. In the historical sources and academic literature, Aceh is often portrayed as a region and people who have drawn on primordial ethnic ties and a conservative brand of Islam to fend off intrusions from both the Dutch colonial state and the contemporary Indonesian state. With multiple academic audiences in mind, Kloos argues against the notion of “Acehnese exceptionalism” in terms of a supposedly fanatic and violent Islam. Instead, Kloos traces genealogies of the historical formation of such an idea (one that implicates both Dutch colonial ethnography and Indonesian national politics) and provides fine-grained ethnographic analysis that delineates the frictions, anxieties, ambivalences, and even senses of moral failure that animate personal piety and public politics. As such, Becoming Better Muslims will be of great...

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