Piety and Protest

Risa J. Toha

Yale-NUS College, , Singapore

How does religion shape protest participation? From the U.S. Civil Rights movement, the Saffron Revolution, to the Arab Spring, religion has played an important mobilizational role in many political protests around the world. But whether and how religion motivates individuals to participate in protests remains unclear. One the one hand, religion may have depressive effects on protest mobilization due to its legitimization of the status quo (Marx 1967). On the other, religion may contain a `cultural toolkit’ that facilitates protests (Swidler 1986). In this paper, we argue that religion has differential effects on individuals’ decision to protest, depending on the contents of individuals’ religious beliefs. Individuals who subscribe to conservative religious teachings are more prone to report higher levels of protest participation than those who belong to religious communities that advocate for more progressive values. We provide empirical evidence from an original survey of 1,440 individuals in Indonesia in the run up to the 2019 presidential election. These results bear important implications for the study of religion and politics.


Risa Toha is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Yale-National University of Singapore. Her research examines ethnic politics and political violence, particularly in Southeast Asia. After attaining her Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles, Toha held fellowships at the Harvard Kennedy School of Government and Stanford University.


The Asian Studies Association of Australia (ASAA) is the peak body of university experts and educators on Asia in Australia. Established in 1976, we promote and support the study of Asia in Australian universities and knowledge of Asia among the broader community. Our membership is drawn mainly from academics and students, but also includes industry and government Asia experts. We take a strong interest in promoting knowledge about Asia in schools and in contributing to state and Commonwealth government policies related to Asia. We provide informed comment on Asia to a broad public through our bulletin, Asian Currents, and specialist research articles in our journal, Asian Studies Review. Four book series published under our auspices cover Southeast Asia, South Asia, East Asia and Women in Asia.

Conference Managers

Please contact the team at Conference Design with any questions regarding the conference.

Photo Credits: Visit Victoria

© 2019 Conference Design Pty Ltd