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The Art of Resistance in Islam: The Performance of Politics among Shi’i Women in the Middle East and Beyond

Based on first-hand ethnographic insights into Shi’i religious groups in the Middle East and Europe, this book examines women’s resistance to state as well as communal and gender power structures.

It offers a new transnational approach to understanding gender agency within contemporary Islamic movements expressed through language, ritual practices, dramatic performances, posters and banners. By looking at the aesthetic performance of the political on the female body through Shi’i ritual practices – an aspect that has previously been ignored in studies on women’s acts of resistance -, Yafa Shanneik shows how women play a central role in redefining sectarian and gender power relations both in the Middle East and in the European diaspora.

About the Author

Yafa Shanneik is Lecturer in Islamic Studies at the Department of Theology and Religion, University of Birmingham. Her research focuses on agency and authority of women in Shi’i and Sunni Muslim communities in the Middle East and their transnational links to Europe. She was awarded three British Academy grants to examine understandings of gender relations and women’s resistance to patriarchal gender norms among Syrian and Iraqi refugees in both the Middle East and Europe.

Table of Contents

Introduction

    0.1 Inner-Shi’i Communal Power Dynamics and the Figure of Fatima

0.2 Scope of the Book

0.3 The Politics of Our Selves

0.4 Performances as a Sensorialized Political Sociality

0.5 New Approaches to the Study of Muslim Women’s Resistance Movements

0.6 Overview of Chapters

    1. Trajectories of Shi’ is in the Gulf and Their Presence in Europe

1.1 Arab Shi’is in the Gulf

1.2 Kuwait

1.3 Bahrain

1.4 Shi’is in Europe

1.5 Transnational Shirazi Network

1.6 Conclusion

    2. The Rites of Mourning within Shi’i Islam

2.1 The Structure of a Majlis

. 2.2 The Religious, Political, and Social Dimensions of Rituals

2.3 Women’s Role in Shi’i Commemoration Practices

 2.4 Vowing for intercession

2.5 Conclusion

    3. Performing the Sacred: Emotions, the Body, and Visuality

3.1 The Ritual of Tashabih

3.2 Tashabih in Women-Only Majalis

3.3 Performing through “Sensory Cultures”

3.4 Tashabih: Political Performativity

3.5 Guriz: The Art of Linking

3.6 Conclusion

   4. Aestheticization of Politics: The Case of Tatbir

4.1 Political, and Religious Dimension of Tatbir

 4.2 Gender Dynamics around Tatbir

4.3 Tatbir Contested

4.4 Tatbir as a Form of Women’s Religious Empowerment

4.5 The Aestheticization of Shi’i Politics

4.6 Conclusion

   5. Fatima’s Apparition: Power Relations within Female Ritual Spaces

5.1 The Importance of Fatima

5.2 Apparitions

5.3 Apparitions within Shi’i Islam: zuhur Fatima

5.4 Materializations of Fatima

5.5 Fatima’s Apparition as a Medium for Change

5.6 Conclusion

   6. The Power of the Word: The Politicization of Language

6.1 The Politicization of Poetry

6.2 The Politicization of Gender Identity through Language

 6.3 The Politicization of Sectarian Conflicts through the Performativity of Poetry

6.4 Posters, Banners, and Graffiti

6.5 Conclusion

  1. Conclusion

7.1 Agency, Resistance, and Pain

7.2 Power and Resistance

7.3 New Religious Movements and Aesthetic Formations

Bibliographic Information

Title: The Art of Resistance in Islam: The Performance of Politics among Shi’i Women in the Middle East and Beyond

Author(s): Yafa Shanneik

Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Length: 288 pages

ISBN: 978-1316516492

Pub. Date: Jan. 20 2022

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