Fifth session of the lecture series
organised by the Institute for Asian and African Studies (IAAW), the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS) and Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO)
Discussing scripted and unscripted Hajj and Umra stories, this lecture situates the pilgrimage to Mecca in the spatial biographies of Tajik Azharites and other Tajik alumni from Islamic universities in the Middle East, who later became traders, businesspeople, or seasonal labor migrants in the Arab Emirates. Understanding Hajj accounts as a space for performativity and representation, the lecture focuses on how these alumni make use of their Hajj memories to arrange their multi-linear, interrupted and precarious translocal mobilities into a coherent story of spiritual becoming and pious self-fashioning. At the same time, the ‘sensational’ appeal of Hajj-related objects like photographs, or souveniers trigger less normative stories that articulate doubt, personal crisis or the economic calculation of a future ‘Hajj business’ and thus transcend the authoritative script of the Hajj as sacralized ‘homing desire’ (McLoughlin 2010) and Mecca’s ‘spiritual magnetism’ (Buitelaar 2015). Following these ‘other’ accounts, my anthropological interest is on how Hajj and Umra stories are embedded in the social and the everyday, and how they shape the emotional, moral and yet economic self of both the narrator and the audience.
Bio note: Manja Stephan-Emmrich is an anthropologist and junior professor for Islam in Asian and African Societies at the Institute for Asian and African Studies at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin. Her research interest covers transnational Islamic education, Muslim reformism, urban religion, youth studies, migration and Islamic economy. She is the leader of a VW-funded research project on ‘Translocal goods and livelihoods in Eurasia and the Middle East' and explores in her current research project the links between religious reformism, Muslim student travel and business networks spanning between Tajikistan and the Gulf (Arab Emirates).
By discussing excerpts from hajj stories of young adult Dutch Muslims of Turkish and Moroccan descent, in this lecture I will focus on the pilgrimage to Mecca as an empowering experience for Muslims with migration backgrounds by providing them with anchor points to formulate answers to existential questions about being and belonging in a modern, globalised world. It will be argued that the desire among young adult Muslims to perform Hajj for spiritual and personal growth points to the merging of an Islamic discourse of ethical self-formation with a modern liberal discourse on self-identity as a ‘project’, thus illustrating that the habitus and identifications of people are always informed by various cultural discourses simultaneously.
Bio note: Marjo Buitelaar is an anthropologist and Full Professor Contemporary Islam at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands. Her research interests are Islam in everyday life, narrative identity construction and migration. She has published two ethnographies set in Morocco concerning the meaning of the hammam, the public bath, and the practice of Ramadan, and a monograph on narrative identity construction of Moroccan-Dutch women. She recently co-edited Religious Voices in Self-Narratives (de Gruyter 2013) with Hetty Zock and Hajj, Global Interactions through Pilgrimage (Sidestone Press, 2015) with Luitgard Mols. She is presently programme- leader of a NWO-funded research project on 'Modern Articulations of Pilgrimage to Mecca'.
Katrin Bromber (Zentrum Moderner Orient)
27.04.2017 | 18:00 - 20:00
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Institut für Asien- und Afrikawissenschaften (IAAW)