Tracing creative moments

The emergence of translocal dervish cults in Bosnia-Herzegovina

in Focaal
Author: David Henig1
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In postsocialist and postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina, popular dervish cults are re-emerging after several decades of (semi)clandestine existence due to official bans and repression imposed by the Yugoslav state socialist governmentality. This article explores how an absence of divine knowledge ensuing from this disruptive history—strongly felt among various Bosnian dervishes today—is transformed into spiritual creativity and an improvisatory dynamic mediated by charismatic sheikhs. It traces “creative moments” leading toward the formation of a Bosnian dervish cult and its realignment with translocal networks of dervish lodges to explore the dynamics of divine knowledge and its creation inside these networks. The ethnography presented here suggests that we move a step beyond mere sociological descriptions of how translocal cults are organized across distance to explore in a more nuanced way the historicity and the dynamics of how divine knowledge is (re)created and idiosyncratically appropriated within these networks.


Journal of Global and Historical Anthropology


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