Seminar on ' Muslim Life between Normative Orders and Ordinary Concerns: A Perspective from Turkey '
On October 24 Fabio Vicini (Istanbul 29 Mayis University / School of Religious Studies, McGill University) will speak on "Muslim life between normative orders and ordinary concerns: A perspective from Turkey".
This paper explores how contemporary members of the Suffa community, one of the many that compose the Nur movement in Turkey, think of themselves as committed Muslims as they juggle modern discourses about science, the importance of modern education, and the meaning of human responsibility in society. By illustrating how these people make use of the dichotomy of Muslims by imitation vs true and aware Muslims, it deflects the attention from the opposition between normative discourses and everyday Islam that is at the center of current debates in the anthropology of Islam. In a more straightforward fashion, the paper points to the “productive encounters” between these two levels of analysis. Namely, it focuses on how my interlocutors largely assimilated normative discourses about modernity and embraced a way of living a committed Muslim life that, in their eyes, is at pace with the times. Yet, at the same time, the paper reveals that this encounter has taken place mainly at the discursive level, whereas the ontological and epistemological assumptions underlying my interlocutors’ reading practices of key religious texts follow long-standing trajectories of the Islamic tradition. The exploration of this case will offer a perspective from which to look at similar dynamics taking place in post-Soviet Russia, as shown by the papers gathered in a special issue recently edited by Di Puppo and Schmoller (2020). For instance, some of the papers demonstrate that Muslims rely on dominant/normative categories such as “traditional Islam” either as a way to define themselves as “moderate” in opposition to what are perceived as more radical currents in Islam, or in order to reject such a label in the name of adhering to a purer way of living a committed religious life in a reformist fashion. In either case, normative discourses are appropriated and re-signified in ways that serve the purposes of Muslim actors.
Date and time: Thursday, October 24th, 6.10 pm
Location: 20 Myasnitskaya 20, room 228
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