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Mindfulness and Hasidic Modernism

Toward a Contemplative Ethnography

Don Seeman and Michael Karlin

Abstract

Amid growing interest in mindfulness studies focusing on Buddhist and Buddhism-derived practices, this article argues for a comparative and ethnographic approach to analogous practices in different religious traditions and to their vernacular significance in the everyday lives of practitioners. The Jewish contemplative tradition identified with Chabad Hasidism is worth consideration in this context because of its long-standing indigenous tradition of contemplative practice, the recent adoption of ‘mindfulness’ practices or terminology by some Hasidim, and its many intersections with so-called Buddhist modernism. These intersections include the personal trajectories of individuals who have engaged in both Buddhist and Hasidism-derived mindfulness practices, the shared invocation and adaptation of contemporary psychology, and the promotion of secularized forms of contemplative practice. We argue that ‘Hasidic modernism’ is a better frame than ‘neo-Hasidism’ for comparative purposes, and that Hasidic modernism complicates the taxonomies of secularity in comparable but distinctive ways to those that arise in Buddhist-modernism contexts.

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Jeremy F. Walton and Piro Rexhepi

Abstract

Over recent decades, Islamic institutions and Muslim communities in the successor nation-states of former Yugoslavia have taken shape against a variegated political and historical topography. In this article, we examine the discourses and politics surrounding Islamic institutions in four post-Yugoslav nation-states: Kosovo, Macedonia, Croatia, and Slovenia. Our analysis moves in two directions. On the one hand, we illuminate the historical legacies and institutional ties that unite Muslims across these four contexts. As we argue, this institutional history continues to mandate a singular, hegemonic model of Sunni-Hanafi Islam that pre-emptively delegitimizes Muslim communities outside of its orbit. On the other hand, we also attend to the contrasting national politics of Islam in each of our four contexts, ranging from Islamophobic anxiety and suspicion to multiculturalism, from a minority politics of differentiation to hegemonic images of ethno-national religiosity.

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On Knowing Faith

Theology, Everyday Religion, and Anthropological Theory

Joel Robbins

I was very honored by the invitation to deliver the 2019 Rappaport Lecture, which forms the basis of this article. The theme of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion's conference for which it was written, “The Politics of Religious Knowledge and Ignorance,” is one that is very close to the heart of Roy Rappaport's work. After all, the foundation of his magisterial theory of the role of ritual in the development of humanity is our species’ radical inability, once language allowed expression to take on a life of its own, to know whether others are lying to us or not, and ritual's ability to address the problem of radical social ignorance that this incapacity sets before us by creating certainty about who people are and what commitments they have taken on (Rappaport 1999). For Rappaport, ritual and religion were both from the start fundamentally entangled with issues of knowledge and ignorance.

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Amira Mittermaier, Susan Harding, and Michael Lambek

A Portrait in Scenes by Amira Mittermaier

For Saba by Susan Harding

Recollections of a Friendship by Michael Lambek

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Post-war Blood

Sacrifice, Anti-sacrifice, and the Rearticulations of Conflict in Sri Lanka

Neena Mahadev

Abstract

Since 2009, in the aftermath of Sri Lanka's ethnic war, certain contingents of Sinhala Buddhists have lodged attacks against religious minorities, whom they censure for committing violence against animals in accordance with the dictates of their gods. Considering these interventions against sacrifice in spaces of shared Hindu and Buddhist religiosity, this article examines the economies of derogation, violence, and scapegoating in post-war Sri Lanka. Within Sinhala Buddhism, sacrifice is considered bio-morally impure yet politically efficacious, whereas meritorious Buddhist discipleship is sacrificial only in aspirational, bloodless terms. Nevertheless, both practices fall within the spectrum of Sinhala Buddhist religious life. Majoritarian imperatives concerning post-war blood impinge upon marginal sites of shared religiosity—spaces where the blood of animals is spilled and, ironically, where political potency can be substantively shored up. The article examines the siting of sacrifice and the purifying majoritarian interventions against it, as Buddhists strive to assert sovereignty over religious others.

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A Ritual Demystified

The Work of Anti-wonder among Sufi Reformists and Traditionalists in a Macedonian Roma Neighborhood

Galina Oustinova-Stjepanovic

Abstract

This article describes how an iconic mystical Sufi ritual of body wounding, zarf, was stripped of its mystical credentials and conventional efficacy amid tensions between Rifai reformists and traditionalists in a small Roma neighborhood in Skopje, Macedonia. The death of a sorcerer and a funeral event-series set the scene for acts of ‘anti-wonder’ and demystification by the Rifai reformists. Despite the history of socialist secularism and inadvertently secularizing Islamic reforms in the region, demystification signaled not the loss of enchantment per se, but a competition for legitimate forms of wonder. In addition to accounting for socio-historical context and relational forms of Islam, the real challenge is how to see a demystified ritual for its explicit intellectual capacity to stimulate speculation about itself.

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Sacred Spaces and Civic Action

Topographies of Pluralism in Russia

Melissa L. Caldwell

Abstract

This article examines several key sites where Russia's civic and religious bodies intersect in pursuit of social justice goals. Based on ethnographic fieldwork among religious communities and social justice organizations in Moscow, the article focuses on the physical, social, and legal spaces where church and state, secular and sacred, civic and personal intersect and the consequences of these intersections for how Russians understand new configurations of church and state, private and public, religious and political. Of particular concern is the emergence of new forms of religious and political pluralism that transcend any one particular space, such as for worship, community life, or political support or protest, and instead reveal shifting practices and ethics of social justice that are more pluralist, progressive, and tolerant than they may appear to be to outside observers.

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Estella Carpi, Sandy F. Chang, Kristy A. Belton, Katja Swider, Naluwembe Binaisa, Magdalena Kubal-Czerwińska, and Jessie Blackbourn

THE MYTH OF SELF-RELIANCE: Economic Lives Inside a Liberian Refugee Camp. Naohiko Omata. New York: Berghahn Books, 2017. 194 pages, ISBN 9781785335648 (hardback).

DIASPORA'S HOMELAND: Modern China in the Age of Global Migration. Shelly Chan. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2018. 280 pages, ISBN 9780822370420 (hardback), 9780822370543 (paperback).

NONCITIZENISM: Recognising Noncitizen Capabilities in a World of Citizens. Tendayi Bloom. New York: Routledge, 2018. 222 pages, ISBN 9781138049185 (hardback).

PROTECTING STATELESS PERSONS: The Implementation of the Convention Relating to the Status of Stateless Persons across EU States. Katia Bianchini. Brill Nijhof: Leiden, 2018. 382 pages, ISBN 9789004362901 (hardback).

HOPE AND UNCERTAINTY IN CONTEMPORARY AFRICAN MIGRATION. Nauja Kleist, and Thorsen Dorte, eds. New York: Routledge, 2017. 200 pages, ISBN 9781138961210 (hardback).

THE IMPACT OF MIGRATION ON POLAND: EU Mobility and Social Change. Anne White, Izabela Grabowska, Paweł Kaczmarczyk, and Krystyna Slany. London: UCL University Press, 2018. 276 pages, ISBN 9781787350687 (open access PDF).

UNLEASHING THE FORCE OF LAW: Legal Mobilization, National Security, and Basic Freedoms. Devyani Prabhat. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016. 225 pages, ISBN 9781137455741 (hardback), ISBN 9781349928118 (paperback).

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“Coaching” Queer

Hospitality and the Categorical Imperative of LGBTQ Asylum Seeking in Lebanon and Turkey

Aydan Greatrick

Abstract

This article argues that Northern responses to, and recognition of, LGBTQ refugees bind queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey, which support such refugees, in a state of contradiction. This contradiction is defined both by the failure of Northern LGBTQ rights discourses to account for Southern ways of being queer, but also by the categorical imperative of hospitality, which asks that the “right” refugee appears in line with the moral, political, raced, and gendered assumptions of Northern host states. In recognizing this imperative, this article observes how queer organizations in Lebanon and Turkey navigate this contradiction by simultaneously “coaching” their beneficiaries on how to appear “credible” in line with Northern assumptions about sexual difference, while working to accommodate the alterity of those they support.

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Mette Louise Berg, Elena Fiddian-Qasmiyeh, and Johanna Waters

This second volume of Migration and Society marks our continued intellectual engagement with authors, artists, and guest editors to make the journal a dynamic platform for exchange and debate across disciplines and fields of thought and action around the issue of migration. Migration continues to be an ongoing issue of global import, and in the past few years we have seen powerful stakeholders around the world developing processes, dialogues, policies, and programs to respond to the challenges and questions that it raises. As editors of Migration and Society, we remain committed to the importance of fostering critical examinations of, and reflections on, migration and the way it is framed and understood by all actors. As these processes and policies have increasingly aimed to “control,” “manage,” “contain,” and “prevent” migration, the need for careful attention to migrants’ everyday practices, desires, aspirations, and fears is particularly urgent, as is the importance of situating these both historically and geographically.