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From the Throes of Anguished Mourning

Shi‘i Ritual Lamentation and the Pious Publics of Lebanon

Fouad Gehad Marei

Abstract

Drawing on a study of Shi‘i ritual lamentation in Lebanon, this article examines how religious actors and pious publics employ literary, recitational, theatrical, and socio-technological methods to cultivate imaginal engagements with the other-worldly. These methods are analyzed, demonstrating how they locate pious Shi‘is in religious meta-narratives that transcend the linearity of time, taking place simultaneously in the Elsewhere and in the here-and-now. I argue that this produces transposable and lasting dispositions that constitute the Shi‘i self, immerses subjects in this-worldly-oriented modes of religiosity, and bestows upon Shi‘i politics and the imagined community a profound emotional legitimacy. I posit that cultivated engagements with the Elsewhere are constitutive experiences in modes of religiosity that emphasize a symbiosis between human action and metaphysical intervention, thus complicating the question of agency and intentional action.