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Open access

Nadeem Ahmed Moonakal and Matthew Ryan Sparks

Abstract

Throughout the Islamic world, the era of COVID-19 has witnessed controversial changes to highly ritualised traditional Islamic funeral rites. To combat the pandemic in Egypt, the government and Al-Azhar implemented restrictions surrounding group prayer and burial which many Egyptians viewed as impinging on their religious duties as well as on their ability to mourn. Utilising participant observation, interviews, and deductive research, this article explores the social and anthropological ramifications involved in the modification of traditional Islamic burial rituals in the era of COVID-19 and the negotiations involved amongst different actors, looking specifically at cases in Egypt.

Open access

Reinventing a Traditional Ritual

Commemorating Karbala's Youngest Martyr in Iran

Atefeh Seyed Mousavi

Abstract

This article explores recent ritual developments in the Iranian religious culture honouring Ali-Asqar (d. 680 CE), the infant son of Imam Husayn. In 2003, a new ritual, the Husayni Infancy Conference, was introduced. The ritual is the only public Muharram assembly dedicated to women and their infants. Based on observation and interviews, I identify ritual transformations, terms of institutionalisation, and the staging of rituals and their structure, and I also examine the objectives behind the Conference from the perspectives of the organisers and participants. I argue that the organisers seek to promote new interpretations of the significance of the Battle of Karbala. This objective is shared by some participants whereas many continue to seek out traditional reasons to commemorate the Battle, such as receiving God's blessings. Attending large ritual gatherings also offers opportunities for socialising and empowerment.

Open access

Reports

Publications

Rose Wellman and Max Klimburg

Marjo Buitelaar, Manja Stephan-Emmrich and Viola Thimm (eds), Muslim Women's Pilgrimage to Mecca and Beyond: Reconfiguring Gender, Religion, and Mobility (London: Routledge, 2021), 213 pp.

Erika Friedl, Religion and Daily Life in the Mountains of Iran: Theology, Saints, People (London: I.B. Tauris, 2021), xix + 178 pp.

Open access

A. A. Mongush

Abstract

This short dictionary is the first attempt to systematize information about the Tuvan names of things and phenomena related to geology, mining, and resources obtained after processing of mineral raw materials. Here we find a very brief Russian-Tuvan geological dictionary containing 131 terms, of which 49 terms are proposed for use for the first time, including 16 terms as additional to those already available in the above dictionaries. In the brief Russian-Tuvan-English geological dictionary, terms related to chemical elements account for about 8 percent of their total amount, to metals and their alloys about 15 percent, to minerals about 15 percent, to mineral aggregates, rocks, and ores about 42 percent, and to other terms about 20 percent. The 11 chemical elements consist of ten metals and one nonmetal.

Open access

With the Best of Intentions

Divorced Custodian Mothers Negotiating Access to Housing in Egypt

Mennatullah Hendawy and Monika Lindbekk

Abstract

This article contributes to a growing literature on the implementation of shariʿa-derived state legislation in Egypt by exploring how differently positioned divorced mothers navigate Egypt's highly gendered personal status codes under circumstances where many men are increasingly unable to discharge their part of the ‘patriarchal bargain’ due to a shortage in affordable housing. We highlight two discrepancies between legislative rules and social practice: The first is the divergence between state law and everyday norms, and the second looks at the limits of implementation and compliance in terms of actions taken by courts and other officials. We consider how and why Muslim personal status law reforms have sought to enhance divorced women's bargaining position in the family where the relevant laws often have unintended, unforeseen and contradictory consequences when it comes to divorced custodian mothers’ access to housing.

Open access

Anthropologist as Nomad

Introducing a New Co-Editor

Aleksandar Bošković

My anthropological journey has consisted in movement not only between different disciplines, but also between languages, countries and continents. This has involved stories of identity (imagined, constructed, or both), changes of place (teaching in six countries on three continents, and in four languages), searches for a safe haven, and belief in understanding the motives that govern human beings. In this wonderful journey, my coming to the Anthropological Journal of European Cultures seems almost an inevitable event. Or perhaps it is just a product of ‘chance and serendipity’. In retrospect, I look at my anthropological journey so far as a voyage of discovery – to different places, under different circumstances and in very different parts of the world.

Open access

Autobiography, Anthropology

A Personal Historical Recollection

Judith Okely

Abstract

In the 1980s, the theme for a future ASA conference had to be personally proposed by a potential organiser at the conference two years earlier. The proposer had to personally convince attending participants, who decided by a visible vote of hands. This recollection on the theme ’‘Anthropology and Autobiography’’ traces the successful 1987 vote for the 1989 conference proposed by myself with Helen Callaway. Before the vote, there were many negative comments claiming our proposal was mere ‘navel-gazing’ and a ‘feminist plot’. Inspired by the problematisation of the use of ‘I’ in Clifford and Marcus’ ‘Writing Culture’, we wanted further confrontation of the gender, age and personality of the participant observer. This article includes references to Malinowski's controversial Diary and the proposers’ struggles with earlier publishers. Comments are made about the photographs in the ensuing volume. Bizarrely, it is now taken for granted that the specificity of the fieldworker is crucial when it comes to the choice of subject and rapport with key individuals in the field.

Open access

Autobiography in Anthropology

A Thirty Year Retrospective

Patrick Laviolette and Aleksandar Bošković

The year 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the release of Helen Callaway and Judith Okely's edited anthology Anthropology and Autobiography. During that generational span, which roughly mirrors the life history of this journal, the book has had far-reaching influences, anchoring a legacy that few such conference collections can imagine for themselves. Indeed, the volume has become a classic reference work for scholars in all walks of the social sciences and humanities when it comes to considering a range of interrelated themes: the reflexive turn; personal encounters in the field; the literary influence of the biographical on ethnography; anthropology's ancestries/histories (Lohmann 2008; Pina-Cabral and Bowman 2020); and so on. Another aspect of this endeavour is looking at ‘anthropology at home’ (Jackson 1987), with all the implications that this brings for research (Peirano 1998), including the notion of ‘auto-anthropology’ (Rapport 2014: 24–35).

Open access

Book Review

Book Review

Shelly Volsche

Nomadic Pastoralism among the Mongol Herders: Multispecies and Spatial Ethnography in Mongolia and Transbaikalia Charlotte Marchina Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2021, 178pp., 34 figures (incl. maps), 14 photographs (B+W). ($101.03 / €89). ISBN: 978-94-6372-142-4.

Open access

The Boundaries of Eurasia

Dividing Lands, Minds, and Bodies in Eighteenth-Century Siberia

Henry Jennings

Abstract

During the eighteenth century, Western European travelers enjoyed unprecedented access to Siberia and many of those who visited believed themselves to have observed a clear boundary between Europe and Asia. This article examines the books of eight such travelers and explores how they categorized those living in Siberia into one of two categories, European or Asian. These travelers interpreted their observations in ways that led them to conclude that a clear binary division existed in the region, separating the European Russian settlers and government from the Asiatic indigenous peoples. Presenting their work as new information, they reproduced older categorizations, repackaged within the scientific language of the Enlightenment.