A Ritual Demystified

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

in Religion and Society
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  • 1 University College London g.oustinova-stjepanovic@ed.ac.uk
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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.

Contributor Notes

GALINA OUSTINOVA-STJEPANOVIC completed her PhD at University College London (UCL). She has been a Teaching Fellow at UCL and a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. Her current project explores archival and commemoration practices among memory activists in Moscow in an effort to understand the significance and politico-ethical implications of accounting for every victim of a mass political atrocity. Recent publications include the co-edited volume Being Godless: Ethnographies of Atheism and Non-Religion (2017, with Ruy Llera Blanes) and “A Catalogue of Vice” (Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 2017). E-mail: g.oustinova-stjepanovic@ed.ac.uk

Religion and Society

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