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Ethnographies of Islam

Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices

Edited by Baudouin Dupret, Thomas Pierret, Paulo G. Pinto, Kathryn Spellman-Poots

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Explores the impact of the ethnographic method on the representation of Islam in anthropology.

This comparative approach to the various uses of the ethnographic method in research about Islam in anthropology and other social sciences is particularly relevant in the current climate. Political discourses and stereotypical media portrayals of Islam as a monolithic civilisation have prevented the emergence of cultural pluralism and individual freedom. Such discourses are countered by the contributors who show the diversity and plurality of Muslim societies and promote a reflection on how the ethnographic method allows the description, representation and analysis of the social and cultural complexity of Muslim societies in the discourse of anthropology.

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About the Author

Baudouin Dupret is educated in Law, Islamic Sciences and Political Sciences. He is Directeur de Recherche at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and was appointed in 2010 Director of the Centre Jacques-Berque in Rabat, Morocco. He is also lecturer in Islamic law at the universities of Louvain and Strasbourg. He has published extensively in the field of the sociology and anthropology of law, legislation and media, especially in the Middle East. His current work involves a praxiological approach to the production of truth in Arab contexts, including courts and parliaments, scientific expertise, the media, and religious education. He (co-)edited numerous volumes, the last one being Narratives of Truth in Islamic Law (Saqi books, 2008), and authored several single-authored books, e.g. Practices of Truth (Benjamins, 2011) and Adjudication in Action: An Ethnomethodology of Law, Moral and Justice (Ashgate, 2011).

Dr Thomas Pierret is Lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh, Department of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies. He received his PhD in Political and social sciences from Sciences Po Paris and the University of Louvain. His areas of interest include the issue of religious authority in Muslim societies, Islamic movements, and the politics of the Middle East (in particular Syria). He is the author of Baas et Islam en Syrie. La dynastie Assad face aux oulémas (Paris: PUF, 2011).

Dr Paulo Pinto is Professor of Anthropology at Universidade Federal Fluminense in Brazil, where he is also the director of the Center for Middle East Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from Boston University. His areas of interest include embodiment and the construction of religious subjectivities, ethnicity and religious nationalism, and pilgrimage processes and the constitution of transnational religious arenas. He has done fieldwork in Syria, mainly in the Sufi communities in Aleppo and in the shrine of Sayda Zaynab, near Damascus, as well as in the in Muslim communities in Brazil. He published several articles on Sufism, Kurdish ethnicity, and Shi'i pilgrimage in contemporary Syria, and is the author of Árabes no Rio de Janeiro: Uma Identidade Plural (Rio de Janeiro: Ed. Cidade Viva, 2010) and Islã: Religião e Civilização, Uma Abordagem Antropológica (Aparecida: Ed. Santuário, 2010).

Kathryn Spellman-Poots is Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations. She received her MSc and PhD in Politics and Sociology from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her areas of interest include Shia Muslims in Europe, the Iranian Diaspora, transnational migration networks, and gender and religious practices in the Middle East and North Africa. Her publications include the monograph Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain (2005) and the co-edited volume Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices (2012). She previously taught the sociology of religion, migration and gender at Syracuse University, London campus. She is on the Editorial Board of The Middle East in London magazine at SOAS.

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