Nurul Huda Binti Mohd Razif | Center for Southeast Asian Studies Kyoto University

Nurul Huda Binti Mohd Razif

Nurul Huda Binti Mohd Razif
Research Departments・Position
Cross-regional Studies
Guest Research Associate (JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow)
Social anthropology, anthropology of marriage & kinship, socio-legal studies, Islamic law, Southeast Asian studies
Research Interests / Keywords
Kinship, intimacy, sorcery

Nurul Huda Binti Mohd Razif

The Familial and the Supernatural: Crafting Kinship Through Sorcery in Contemporary Malaysia

I am a social anthropologist working on the intersection between intimacy, Islam, and the state in the Malay world and Muslim Southeast Asia. Since 2014, I have conducted long-term, multi-sited fieldwork in Malaysia and Southern Thailand, studying the rise in cross-border elopements and polygynous marriages at the Malaysian-Thai border. This will be manifested in my upcoming monograph with Berghahn Books, entitled Halal Intimacy: Love, Marriage, and Polygyny in Contemporary Malaysia, in which I take an ethnographic and a socio-legal approach to understand Malays’ pursuits of “halal” (permissible) intimacy condoned by Islam, Malay adat (culture), and Malaysian Islamic law.

My research at CSEAS as a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow will build on my work on intimacy to investigate how Malays incorporate love magic and sorcery practices (sihir) into processes of “becoming kin” ‒ marrying, feeding, and living together. I am interested in seeing the ways supernatural and unseen forces (re)direct love, loyalties, and resources in a competitive marriage market fraught where polygyny, elopements, and secrecy can make or break kinship bonds.

I read Anthropology and French at the University of Western Australia and Sciences Po Paris, and received my PhD in Social Anthropology at the University of Cambridge in 2018. Prior to moving to Kyoto, I have held research fellowships in Paris (CASE-EHESS; CEM-FMSH) and Leiden (IIAS; KITLV), as well as a joint appointment as a Visiting Fellow in the Program on Law & Society in the Muslim World, Harvard Law School, and an Evans Fellow on Southeast Asia at the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Cambridge (2019-2020). For a full list of my recent publications, seminars, and past engagements, please refer to my website (