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The development of Iraqi Shiʼa mourning rituals in modern Iraq: the ʻAshurā rituals and visitation of Al-Arbʻain

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This study is based on a submission of anthropological, historical, and literary approaches. The ethnographic study of the Shi'a holy shrines between November 2011 and January 2012 is based on

This study is based on a submission of anthropological, historical, and literary approaches. The ethnographic study of the Shi'a holy shrines between November 2011 and January 2012 is based on my visit to Iraq. The study lasted almost ten weeks, to include the two events under discussion: `Ashurā and Al-Arb`ain, in Karbala of that year. This thesis argues that the mourning rituals of `Ashurā and the Forty Day Visitation Zyarat Al-Arb`ain contribute to the social or individual life of Iraqi Shi'a. They also make significant contributions through creating a symbolic language to communicate for the community, as well as communicating with their essential symbolic structure. Second, the Forty Day Visitation Zyarat Al-Arb`ain is one of the most significant collective mourning rituals, one that expresses unity and solidarity of the Iraqi Shi'a community, and helps them to represent their collective power, and maintain their collective existence. This study uses two of Victor Turner's tripartite models. For `Ashurā the rite of passage rituals is used, which consists of the separation, margin, and re-aggregation phase. Through this process of entering and leaving time and social structure, it helps in changing the social status of the participants. The other model used for Al-Arb`ain is pilgrimage as a social process, which includes three levels of communitas: existential, normative, and ideological communitas. The Shi'a in Iraq are holding a position similar to Turner's notion of communitas since they are living within a society that is Muslim and yet even though they are a larger population of the society, they still become marginalized by the Sunni population socially, economically, and politically. Social relations and links play a significant role for Shi'a in `Ashurā and Al-Arb`ain as a reflection between their social status as an undefined communitas and the general structure of Iraqi society.

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  • 2012

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Historical imagination, diasporic identity and Islamicity among the Cham Muslims of Cambodia

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Since the departure of the UN Transitional Authority (UNTAC) in 1993, the Cambodian Muslim community has undergone a rapid transformation from being an Islamic minority on the periphery of the

Since the departure of the UN Transitional Authority (UNTAC) in 1993, the Cambodian Muslim community has undergone a rapid transformation from being an Islamic minority on the periphery of the Muslim world to being the object of intense proselytization by foreign Islamic organizations, charities and development organizations. This has led to a period of religious as well as political ferment in which Cambodian Muslims are reassessing their relationships to other Muslim communities in the country, fellow Muslims outside of the country, and an officially Buddhist state. This dissertation explores the ways in which the Cham Muslims of Cambodia have deployed notions of nationality, citizenship, history, ethnicity and religion in Cambodia's new political and economic climate. It is the product of a multi-sited ethnographic study conducted in Phnom Penh and Kampong Chhnang as well as Kampong Cham and Ratanakiri. While all Cham have some ethnic and linguistic connection to each other, there have been a number of reactions to the exposure of the community to outside influences. This dissertation examines how ideas and ideologies of history are formed among the Cham and how these notions then inform their acceptance or rejection of foreign Muslims as well as of each other. This understanding of the Cham principally rests on an appreciation of the way in which geographic space and historical events are transformed into moral symbols that bind groups of people or divide them. Ultimately, this dissertation examines the Cham not only as an Islamic minority, but as an Islamic diaspora - a particular form of identity construction which has implications for their future development and relations with non-Muslim peoples. It reconsiders the classifications of diasporas proposed by Robin Cohen and William Safran, by incorporating Arjun Appadurai's conception of locality as a construct that must be continuously rendered in praxis to generate the socially shared understanding of space, geography and its meaning for communitarian identity. This treatment of Islamic transnationalism within the context of diaspora studies can contribute to the broader conversation on the changing face of Islamic identity in an increasingly globalized world.

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  • 2012

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Individuals, collectives, sisters: vernacular cosmopolitan praxis among Muslim women in transnational cyberspaces

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This dissertation research analyzes the vernacular cosmopolitan praxis of Muslim women in transnational cyberspaces related to topical and collective action networks, in an effort to detangle cosmopolitanism from its Western

This dissertation research analyzes the vernacular cosmopolitan praxis of Muslim women in transnational cyberspaces related to topical and collective action networks, in an effort to detangle cosmopolitanism from its Western biases and to move away from studies of online Muslim populations based on geographical locations or homogenous networks, linking individuals through their religious practices or consumption of religious knowledge. Through highlighting praxes rather than contexts, this dissertation disrupts the East/West binary and challenges stereotypes ascribed to Muslim women. One of the research questions related to the cosmopolitan praxis of Muslim women is the following: in what ways do Muslim women engage with "others" online and contribute to bridging dissimilar people? Findings suggest that the social media use of Muslim women contributes to their subtle resistance against communal norms and, although it can serve as an extension to their voices, some of their voices are more readily mediated than others. I employ a connective content analysis methodology to put various datasets associated with topics and collective actions related to Muslim women into conversation. The methodology not only highlights consistencies in the qualitative themes that were iteratively developed through the analyses of the datasets, but also more tangible connections related to social media users, topics, and content. Consequently, this thesis is as much concerned with recasting Western-oriented conceptualizations of cosmopolitanism as it is with how networks dynamics foster and constrain cosmopolitan praxis because digital networks have the extraordinary capacity to link dissimilar people beyond any other type of medium. One of the research questions related to the methodology is: how do network dynamics facilitate and constrain cosmopolitan praxis? The substantive chapters related to the datasets discuss various forms of cosmopolitan praxis that were identified in the analysis: social media use by Muslim women that expands the connective memory, which could contribute to dispelling stereotypes ascribed to them; activism that addresses universal concerns related to women's rights regardless of context; dialogically devising basic standards of social conduct and gender relations; and expressions of tolerance toward divergent views, including alternative interpretations of Islamic beliefs and practices.

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  • 2014

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Faith, moral authority, and politics: the making of progressive Islam in Indonesia

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Several Islamic organizations have experience major changes in their theological frames and political identities away from fundamentalist and revivalist theological orientation to one that embraces a progressive Islamic theology that

Several Islamic organizations have experience major changes in their theological frames and political identities away from fundamentalist and revivalist theological orientation to one that embraces a progressive Islamic theology that synthesizes these norms with classical Islamic teachings. What are the factors that explain these theological changes? What are the causal mechanisms that help to promote them? Using the moral authority leadership theory, I argue that Islamic groups would be able to change their theological frames and political identities if the changes are promoted by religious leaders with 'moral authority' status, who are using both ideational and instrumental strategies to reconstruct the theological frames of their organizations. In addition to moral authority leadership, intermediary variables that also affect the likelihood of a theological change within Islamic groups are the institutional culture of the organization - the degree of tolerance for non-Islamic theological teachings - and the relationship between the Islamic group and the state. This study is a comparative historical analysis of two Indonesian Islamic groups: the Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) and the Muhammadiyah. It finds that the NU was able to successfully change its theological positions due to the presence of a charismatic moral authority leader, the tolerant institutional culture within the organization, and the ability of the organization to ally with the Suharto regime, allowing the reform to be institutionalized with little intervention from the regime. On the other hand, theological reform within the Muhammadiyah was not successful due to the lack of a leader with moral authority status who could have led the reforms within the organization, as well as to the dominance of a revivalist institutional culture that does not tolerate any challenges to their interpretation of Islamic theology. The analysis makes theoretical contributions on the role of religious leadership within Islamic movements and the likelihood of Islamic groups to adopt liberal political norms such as democracy, religion-state separation, and tolerance toward religious minorities. It identifies the mechanisms in which theological change within Islamic group become possible.

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  • 2012

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Dimensions of religious practice: the Ammatoans of Sulawesi, Indonesia

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This thesis is an ethnographic account of the religious practices of the Ammatoa, a Konjo-speaking community of approximately 4600 people living in the southeast uplands of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It

This thesis is an ethnographic account of the religious practices of the Ammatoa, a Konjo-speaking community of approximately 4600 people living in the southeast uplands of South Sulawesi, Indonesia. It examines aspects of Ammatoan rituals, cosmology, culture, economy, and politics that, from their point of view, are also considered religious. For the purpose of this dissertation, I understand religion to be ways of relationship between human beings and their fellow humans: the living and the dead, other beings, such as animals, plants, forests, mountains, rivers, and invisible entities such as gods and spirits. This conception of religion provides a better framework for understanding Ammatoan religion because for them religion includes many aspects of everyday life. The Ammatoans divide their land into an inner and an outer territory. The former is the constrained domains for their indigenous religion and the latter is more open to interaction with the outside world. The politics of territorial division has enabled Ammatoans to preserve their indigenous religion and navigate pressures from outside powers (i.e., Islam and modernity). The politics is, in part, a religious manifestation of Ammatoan oral tradition, the Pasang ri Kajang, which is the authoritative reference for all elements of everyday life. By following the tenets of the Pasang, Ammatoans seek to lead a life of kamase-masea, a life of simplicity. I explore how Ammatoans apply, challenge, and manipulate their understandings of the Pasang. Ammatoans demonstrate their religiosity and commitment to the Pasang through participation in rituals. This dissertation explores the diversity of Ammatoan rituals, and examines the connections between these rituals and the values of the Pasang through an extended analysis of one particular large-scale ritual, akkatterek (haircut). This ritual serves to incorporate a child into the wider Ammatoan cosmos. I also explore the encounters between Ammatoan indigenous religion, Islam, and modernity. I argue that the local manifestation of the concepts of Islam and modernity have both influenced and been influenced by Ammatoan indigenous religion. I conclude that despite their conversion to Islam and the intrusion of modernity, Ammatoan indigenous religion persists, albeit as an element of a hybrid cultural complex.

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  • 2012