Members (EN) | Alphabetical list

Gabriel Facal

Associate Members

Coordonnées professionnelles

Professional Contact


Research field

Social Anthropology


Martial initiations; patron-client relations and corruption; violent Islamist groups; “strongmen”; ancestry; potent objects; combat techniques; Southeast Asia.

Language skills

English: Working knowledge.
French: Mother tongue.
Spanish: Father tongue.
Indonesian: Working knowledge.
Sundanese: Basic.

University degrees and diplomas

2009-2012: Doctorate obtained at Aix-Marseille Université under the direction of Prof. Jean-Marc de Grave (MCF HDR), First class Honours. Title of the thesis: Réseaux d’autorité, islam, institutions politiques. Les « hommes forts » jawara de Banten (Indonésie) (“Authority networks, Islam, political institutions. The « strongmen » jawara of Banten [Indonesia]”). Jury: Denis Monnerie (president of the jury), Jean-Marc de Grave, Sophie Chave-Dartoen, Heinzpeter Znoj.
2009-2008: Master 2 (MA) of Social Anthropology at École des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, under the supervision of Prof. Yves Goudineau and Prof. Jean Marc de Grave (Tutor), First class Honours.
2007: Licence (BA) Sociology, Université Toulouse 2 - Le Mirail.


My first research is about the martial initiations of Banten (Indonesia), locally named penca. They are developed under several forms in the Malay world (Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, southern Thailand and southern Philippines). Through the years, I have examined the development of this phenomenon in several Southeast Asian regions, through direct investigation in the villages and urban neighborhoods, by doing interviews with the practitioners, and by participating to the martial trainings and initiation rituals. I contributed to several collective projects on this topic, to explore an immense research field that is still unconsidered by the specialists of the region, while it concerns hundred thousands of practitioners, it informs us on local cosmologies locales and authority relationships, and it engages complex technical chains at the crossroad of the combat practices, the ritual and religious actions, and the agrarian operations.
In my PhD thesis (Aix-Marseille University, 2012), I researched the strong link between some of these initiation groups with non formal and very powerful political networks, spread in several Indonesian regions, as well as at the national level. This research enabled me to highlight the key position of these groups at the articulation between the local communities, State political actors, and Islamic militias. This investigation was the base of a post-doctoral research (2016-2017) about the support groups to the Islamic State organization in Banten. It also underlay a core of works about Indonesian vigilante groups, from violent Islamist organisations to pro-government militias, through communitarian groups that exert forms of auto-justice. Through the study of personal trajectories, I aim to unveil the weight of individual engagement, particularly of political intermediaries, moral entrepreneurs, and strongmen, in the shaping of patron-clients networks at the heart of the Indonesia State.

Recent collective responsibilities

  • 2018-2020: Co-organization of the international conference “Martial Arts, Religion, and Spirituality (MARS)”, Aix-Marseille University, July 2020 (France).
  • 2018a: Co-organization of the international conference “Modes of Authority and Aesthetics practices from South to Southeast Asia”, École Normale Supérieure, May 23th-25th, Paris (France).
  • 2018b: Co-organization of the roundtable “Sustainable tourism potential for the West Javanese performance practices”, 5th Symposium of the ICTM Study Group on Performing Arts of Southeast Asia (PASEA), Department of Sabah Museum, 16-22 July, Kota Kinabalu (Malaysia).
  • 2017-2018a: Co-organization (with Sarah Anaïs Andrieu) of the collective research project “Syncretic dimension of Islamic practices in West Java, Indonesia”. Project hosted by Centre Asie du Sud-Est (Paris, France) and Laboratorium Bantenologi (Serang, Indonesia), funded by Institut Français d’Indonésie through the program Science et Impacts, January 2017-June 2018 (France-Indonesia).
  • 2017-2018b: Co-organisation of eight workshops in the course of the research project “Modes of Authority and Aesthetics practices from South to Southeast Asia”, Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL), Fondation de la Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris (France).
  • 2017-2018c: Direction of the research project Sacrés Pusaka ! Les objets puissants de Java Ouest et Banten, funded by Institut Français d’Indonésie, Conference cycle « Hommes, Territoires, Sociétés » (France-Indonésie). Project including two round tables and two workshops.

Selective bibliography


  • 2018: La foi et la Force. L'art martial silat de Banten (Indonésie) (“Strenght and faith. Silat martial art in Banten [Indonesia]”), publication in process, Paris, Indes Savantes, 226 p.
  • 2016: Keyakinan dan Kekuatan. Seni Bela Diri Silat Banten (“Strenght and faith. Silat martial art in Banten [Indonesia]”), Jakarta, Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia, 315 p.

Articles in journals with international reading committee

  •  2019: “Islamic Defenders Front militia (FPI) of Indonesia and its impact on growing religious intolerance since 2014”, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Trans-Regional and -National Studies of Southeast Asia,
  •  2017a: “Technical Continuities of the martial ritual initiations in the Malay World”, Martial Arts Studies, Cardiff University Press.
  • 2017b: « Continuités et transitions de la Reformasi indonésienne. L’actualité politique de Banten après les élections provinciales de 2017 » (“Continuation and transitions of the Indonesian Reformasi. The political actuality of Banten after the provincial elections provinciales of 2017”), Revue Archipel, May, n° 93.
  • 2017c: « La transition démocratique indonésienne. Enjeux géopolitiques et risques sécuritaires » (“Indonesian democratic transition. Geopolitical challenges and security risks”), Magazine Diplomatie, January-February, n° 84.
  • 2013: with Hamid, Abdul, “Nationalism, Islam and political influence. The ethics of the enterprises in Banten (Indonesia)”, Moussons, n° 21, pp. 51-64.
  • 2012: « Autorité et transmission à travers la relation aîné-cadet. Le cas de l’école de penca Cimande Pusaka Medal (Banten, Indonésie) » (“Authority and transmission through the elder-younger’s relationship. The case of Cimande Pusaka Medal penca school [Banten, Indonesia]”), Moussons, n° 20, pp. 57-82.
  • 2010: « L’interaction réflexivité-intelligence motrice dans les arts martiaux. Le cas de l’initiation rituelle penca à Banten (Indonésie) » (“Interaction between reflexivity and motor intelligence in martial arts. The case of the penca initiation ritual in Banten [Indonesia]”), Revue STAPS, n° 89, pp. 11-18.

Books Chapters

  • 2019: to be published in March, « Indonésie - Stratégies électorales et compromissions gouvernementales » (“Indonesia – Electoral strategies and governmental compromissions”), in Claire Thi Liên Tran et Christine Cabasset (dir.), L’Asie du Sud-Est 2019, Paris-Bangkok, Irasec-Indes Savantes.
  • 2011: « La dimension éducative des arts martiaux sundanais » (“The educational dimension of Sundanese martial arts”), Presses universitaires de Franche-Comté, pp. 167-176.
  • Encyclopedia entries
  • 2010a: “Political Uses of the Martial Arts”, in Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth (dir.), Martial arts of the World: an Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara-Oxford, pp. 679-684.
  • 2010b: “Banten (West Java)”, entry in “Belief systems”, in Thomas A. Green and Joseph R. Svinth (dir.), Martial arts of the World: an Encyclopedia, ABC-CLIO, Santa Barbara-Oxford, pp. 394-405.

Articles in other journals

  • 2017a: « Le Front des Défenseurs de l’Islam (FPI) contre la liberté de la presse en Indonésie » (The Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) against press freedom in Indonesia”), Le Banian, n° 24, pp. 86-107.
  •  2017b: « Le projet d’inscription du pencak silat à l’UNESCO. Quelles représentations sont en jeu ? » (“The inscription project of pencak silat at UNESCO. What representations are at stake?”), Le Banian, n° 23, pp. 114-121.
  • 2014a: “Silat martial ritual initiation in Brunei Darussalam”, Southeast Asia: A Multidisciplinary Journal, vol. 14, FASS, Universiti Brunei Darussalam, pp. 1-13.
  • 2014b: “Religious Specificities of the Early Sultanate of Banten (Western Java, Indonesia)”, Jurnal Indo-Islamika, Universitas Islam Negeri Jakarta, vol. IV, n° 1, January-June, pp. 12-37.
  • 2014c: “Hyper-centralization of political power and fragmentation of local authority networks in Banten (Indonesia)”, Working Paper, n° 10, Institute of Asian Studies, Gadong, Universiti Brunei Darussalam.
  • 2010: « Rituels et transmission dans l’école de penca Cimande Pusaka Medal de Banten (Indonésie) » (“Rituals and transmission in the Cimande Pusaka Medal penca school from Banten [Indonesia]”), Aspects Sociologiques, Volume 17, n° 1, pp. 121-139.
  • Study papers
  • 2018a: « Les rivalités entre milices islamiques au cœur des élections présidentielles en Indonésie » (“The rivalries between Islamic militias at the core of the presidential elections in Indonesia”), Note de l’Observatoire international du fait religieux, Centre de recherches internationales (CERI) et Groupe sociétés, religions, laïcités (EPHE).
  •  2018b: « Les groupes islamistes radicaux en Asie du Sud-Est - Panoramas institutionnels, réseaux d’affiliation et références idéologiques » (“Islamic radical groups in Southeast Asia – Insitutional panoramas, affiliation networks and ideological references”), Note de l’Observatoire Asie du Sud-Est.


  • 2018: “Review of Gusman Natawijaya, Maen Pukulan: Pencak Silat Khas Betawi [The strike games: pencak silat in Betawi region], Jakarta Yayasan Pustaka Obor Indonesia, 2016, 342 p.”, in Kyoto review of Southeast Asia, Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, n° 23.
  • 2012: “Review of Rudnyckyj, Daromir, Spiritual economies - Islam, globalization and the afterlife of development, Ithaca, New York, Cornell University Press, 2010, 289 p.”, Bijdragen tot de Taal-Land-en Volkenkunde, vol. 168, n° 1, pp. 145-148.
  • Work under evaluation, under press, and to be published

Research books

  • 2019: submission in January of a trilogy, entitled Le triptyque du pouvoir à Banten en Indonésie (“The triptych of power in Banten, Indonesia”):
    • - Volume 1 - La métamorphose du pouvoir. Les « hommes forts » jawara (“The metamorphosis of power. The ‘strongmen’ jawara), 305 p. (publication planned in 2020).
    • - Volume 2 - La machette et le chapelet. Réseaux politiques parallèles et contrepouvoirs (“The machete and the rosary. Political parallel networks and counter powers”), 296 p. (publication planned in 2021).
  • - Volume 3 - La radicalité contre l’extrémisme. Islams militants (“Radicality against extremism. Militant Islams), 207 p. (publication planned in 2022).
  • Articles in journals with international reading committee
  • 2019: to be published in March, « De la source du savoir initiatique au temps de la douleur. La position médiatrice des ancêtres-tigres dans l’initiation rituelle martiale penca à Banten (Indonésie) » (“From the origin of the initiation’s knowledge to the time of pain. The mediation position of the tiger-ancestors in the martial ritual initiation penca in Banten [Indonesia]”), in Sophie Chave-Dartoen (ed.), Le façonnement des ancêtres en Asie du Sud-Est et en Insulinde, Paris, Presses de l'INALCO.


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