Sumanto Al Qurtuby is a visiting professor at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and a fellow at the Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies (both at the University of Notre Dame, South Bend, Ind.). At the university, Sumanto co-teaches with Scott Appleby on issues around religion and secularism and their contributions to global conflict, peace, and democracy as well as develops his dissertation into a book manuscript, titled “Blaming Politics, Forgetting Religion: Christian-Muslim Violence and Peacebuilding in Indonesia.” The manuscript is under consideration for publication in the Oxford Studies in Strategic Peacebuilding series, a joint project between the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and Oxford University Press. At Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute, Sumanto also helps develop a global research initiative called Contending Modernities: Catholic, Muslim, Secular. Directed by Scott Appleby, the initiative is a major interdisciplinary research project to generate new knowledge and greater understanding of the ways in which religious and secular forces interact in the modern world. It also is designed to chart paths toward greater cooperation within and among these global traditions of knowledge, belief, and practice aiming at finding alternatives of building peace around the globe. The project involves dozens of scholars, public intellectuals, and religious and secular leaders from universities and research institutes around the world.
Sumanto, who holds a B.A. in Islamic studies, obtained a Ph.D in Cultural Anthropology with a focus on political and religious anthropology from Boston University, and received two master’s degrees, from the Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (in Conflict Transformation) and from the Satya Wacana Christian University in Indonesia in Sociology of Religion. A co-founder of the North American branch of Nahdlatul Ulama (Renaissance of Religious Scholars), Indonesia’s largest Islamic organization, Sumanto has authored and edited 13 books and wrote numerous journal articles and hundreds of short-essays, both in English and in Indonesian, on the history, politics, and cultures of Indonesian Islam and Muslim societies, including Among the Believers: A Life Story of a Muslim Living with American Mennonites (2011); Postliberal Islam: Religion, Freedom, and Humanity (2010), The Flow of Chinese Muslims to Java in the 15th and 16th Centuries (2003); and The New Era of Islamic Law in Indonesia (1999). In addition to teaching, research, and writing, Sumanto has special hobbies including, among others, listening country music, fishing, and watching Hollywood classic and action movies.