Negotiating Halal: The Role of Non-Religious Concerns in Shaping Halal Slaughter Standards in Indonesia

Tuesday, 17 July 2018: 08:45
Oral Presentation
Anom SURYAWAN, Graduate School of Economics, Kyoto University, Japan
In recent years the global halal market has been one of the fastest growing market segments in the world. A key driving force behind such a rapid expansion has been the successful development of halal standard and certification established by various public and private institutions. While scholars have been attentive to research on halal food markets and halal certification, far too little attention has been paid to the actual processes behind the creation of halal standard. This paper seeks to fill this gap by using the standard-setting processes of the new state-led halal standards in Indonesia as a case study. Particularly, it focuses on examining competing frames and narratives underpinning the prescription of the new halal slaughter criteria in Indonesia. This study aims to answer how the provisions on slaughter and stunning methods in halal standards are determined. Using the concept of ‘backstage politics’ and based on extensive document analysis and semi-structured interviews with members of the Halal Technical Committee 03-08 of the National Standardization Agency of Indonesia, the article argues that in contemporary Islam, particularly in the Indonesian context, the criteria for halal slaughter are no longer determined exclusively based on Islamic dietary laws that explain them. Rather, increasingly non-religious concerns such as food security, animal welfare and state sovereignty are becoming integrally embedded and play a decisive role in shaping what is acceptable or unacceptable in halal standards. These findings contribute to the body of scholarly literature by critically questioning existing views of halal standards as pure religiously inspired governing schemes that seemingly disconnect from ‘secular’ food politics taking place at both the national and global context. The article concludes that, instead, as the tensions within halal politics resonate with the struggles in other domains, the meaning of halal has now extended beyond the realm of religious debates.