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Muslim social formations: bridging discursive and Islamicate perspectives

As a way of analytically bridging the piety and everyday-Islam perspectives on aesthetic practices, we propose to focus on the Islamicatebroadly conceptualizedacross the rich terrain of South Asia to explore the role of pleasure and aesthetics in forming and expressing Muslim sociability.

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Convenors:

· Raphael Susewind King's College London (London, United Kingdom)
· Sana Ghazi Max-Planck Institute for the Study of Ethnic and Religous Diversity (Goettingen, Germany)

Long Abstract

Recent debates on Islam in anthropology have tended to focus on pious and/or revivalist discourse, drawing on the work of Talal Asad (1986, 1994) and Saba Mahmood (2005) on the one hand and ‘everyday Islam’ or ‘lived Islam’ on the other (Lambek 2010, Osella and Soares 2010, Schielke 2012). The latter stream of literature emphasizes subjective ambiguity and ambivalence towards Islamic discourse by analyzing enjoyment or pleasure as opposed to norms. Both streams of literature however appear to be in analytical agreement on a separation of religious and secular realms. This often obscures ethnographic nuance and allows little discussion on the role of practices involving pleasure and aesthetics in forming and expressing Muslim subjectivities and sociability (e.g., playful wedding songs).

As a way of analytically bridging the piety and everyday-Islam perspectives, we thus propose to focus on the Islamicate across the rich terrain of South Asia. ‘Islamicate’, the term for the culture of the lands where Muslims have been historically visible, is Marshall Hodgson’s (1977) contribution to understanding objects and processes that are informed by Islamic discourse but not determined by it. Hodgson’s productive term has, of late, sparked considerable interest (Lawrence 2015, Ruthven 2016). Since the aesthetic realm, often exemplified in Islamicate poetry, or philosophy in poetic form, has traditionally been the subject of literary studies or history, we particularly seek papers from the social sciences that speak to the relationship between the Islamic and the Islamicate.