Home / All / Call for Papers: Materiality, Rituals and Senses: The Dynamic World of Lived Shi‘i Islam

Call for Papers: Materiality, Rituals and Senses: The Dynamic World of Lived Shi‘i Islam

This conference explores the material, ritual and sensory forms of expression that constitute and shape the experiences of Shi‘i Muslims in diverse geographies and different time periods. It therefore seeks to uncover the dynamics of lived Shi‘i Islam and its varied temporal and spatial dimensions.

Yet how do we conceptualize these facets of Shi‘i cultural production and materiality without essentializing and homogenizing Shi‘i belief and practice? The conference seeks to probe conceptions of culture in the study of Shi‘i Islam while equally considering the relevance of history, politics, form, meaning, and context for understanding Shi‘i lived religion. For instance, how do material and sensory expressions of Shi‘i devotion and ritual practice constitute different aesthetic formations and cultural articulations of Shi‘i Islam? What role do artforms and material cultures play in the facilitation and negotiation of Shi‘i ideas, norms and ways of life? And how do forms of cultural production and materiality of Shi‘i Islam foster communal identities and relations of solidarity transcending boundaries of time and place while also articulating and promoting social and political values and worldviews?

We welcome contributions that interrogate, problematize, and question these theoretical debates through empirically or historically informed research. We therefore encourage cross-disciplinary work that embraces different fields, spaces, times, technologies, and actors encompassing but not limited to:

  • Devotion and ritual practice and its multiple sensory, material, embodied and aesthetic forms
  • Shi‘i artforms and material cultures such film, theater, visual arts, architecture, literature, poetry, miniatures and music
  • Dynamics and processes of Shi‘i heritage-making in majority, minority and diasporic contexts
  • Historical analysis of the continuities and transformations of Shi‘i rituals, artforms and material expressions of piety
  • Gendered dimensions of Shi‘i cultural production
  • Actors involved in the production and circulation of Shi‘i modes of cultural production
  • Influences of globalization, sectarianization, and diasporas on Shi‘i cultural production
  • Translocal and transnational entanglements and flows of ideas, capital, and people
  • Influences of technological advances (e.g. satellite broadcasting, the Internet, digital technologies and new media) on Shi‘i cultural production
  • Political economy of Shi‘i cultural production
  • Influence and impact of regional and world politics on content and form in Shi‘i cultural production.

We welcome research on various subdivisions of Shi‘i Islam, including the Twelver, Ismaili, and Zaidi subbranches, as well as research on Alid piety and different forms of devotion to ahl al-bayt more generally. Scholars of all career levels and disciplinary and interdisciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to submit an abstract, including from Anthropology, Area Studies, Cultural Studies, History, Islamic Studies, Media Studies, Political Science, Religious Studies, Sociology, Ethnomusicology and other relevant and related disciplines and fields.

How to submit an abstract 

The deadline for abstract submission is 15 April 2022. Abstracts of up to 300 words and a short bio of (up to 200 words) should be sent in MS Word format as an email attachment to alterumma@ctr.lu.se. The abstract should include the full title of your paper and six keywords describing your research. Decisions will be made and a notification of acceptance will be given by 15 May 2022. A number of travel bursaries are available for PhD students and early career researchers who wish to present at the conference.


The conference is part of the Alterumma project funded by the European Research Council which is now based at Lund University in Sweden. The conference is hosted by the Giorgi Tsereteli Institute of Oriental Studies at Ilia State University in Tbilisi, Georgia. Currently, the conference is planned as an in-person event.

Keynote speakers

Prof Karen Ruffle (University of Toronto) and Prof Babak Rahimi (University of California in San Diego) will deliver a joint keynote lecture.

Cultural programme

The conference will also include an exhibition, film screenings, and expert panel discussions with artists and practitioners involved in Shi‘i cultural production. Participants will also be given the opportunity to join a guided city tour of Tbilisi and an excursion to historical sites relevant to Georgia’s Islamic heritage.

Click Here to know more.

About Ali Teymoori

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