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Department of Social Anthropology



I am an Evans Fellow (2019-2021) on Southeast Asia at this department, and concurrently a Visiting Fellow (2019-2020) at Harvard Law School’s Program on Law & Society in the Muslim World.

After earning my doctorate from this department in 2018, I moved to Leiden, the Netherlands, where I had the pleasure of serving as Affiliated Fellow at the Royal Netherlands Institute of Southeast Asian and Caribbean Studies (KITLV), before joining the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) as a Research Fellow. In summer 2019, I was elected as the first fellow to represent IIAS in a new research partnership with the Collège d’Études Mondiales – Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris.

My research combines ethnography and court archival data to unpack the gendered experiences of the bureaucratization of Islam and Shari’ah law in Malaysia, using marriage and the contentious practice of polygyny as a critical lens of analysis. While at the Law School, I will be investigating the protection of women’s economic rights in polygyny applications in Malaysian Shari’ah Courts, alongside developing my first monograph for Berghahn Books, tentatively titled Halal Intimacy: Love, Marriage, and Polygyny in Contemporary Malaysia. Based on ethnographic fieldwork in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, this book will explore how Malay-Muslim notions of love and state surveillance of “illicit” (i.e. pre/extra-marital) intimacy create pressures to marry that have led to a rise in alternative forms of marrying (i.e. through contracting cross-border marriages in Thailand) and marriage (polygyny).


Key publications: 

2018: “The Unhappy Polygamist: Desire & (Dis)satisfaction in Malay Polygamy”, in Friendship & Happiness: A Global Perspective, eds. T. Delaney & T. Madigan, Vernon Press, Wilmington, pp. 163-169.

2019: “The Changing Face of Polygamy in Contemporary Malaysia”, Woolf Institute Blog, 01 February.

Forthcoming: “Intimacy Under Surveillance: Illicit Sexuality, Moral Policing & the State in Contemporary Malaysia”, Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East & the Muslim World, Special Issue on Gender & Judging, edited by Monika Lindbekk & Susanne Dahlgren.

In preparation: Halal Intimacy: Love, Marriage, and Polygyny in Contemporary Malaysia, Berghahn Books.

Evans Fellow
Dr Nurul Huda  Mohd Razif

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