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The Ritual FusionIndividuality, Tradition, and Sensory Memory in Iranian Women’s Islamic Gatherings in Los Angeles

The Ritual FusionIndividuality, Tradition, and Sensory Memory in Iranian Women’s Islamic... This article explores domestic religious practices of Iranian Muslim women in Los Angeles. In the diasporic context, Iranian women’s voluntary engagement in vernacular Islamic practices is often associated with an unreflexive pursuit of religion and lack of agency or with complicity with the Islamic Republic’s conservative brand of Shiism. To examine the complexities of such practices in the United States, this research relies on the ethnography of a monthly domestic gathering in LA that offers a hybrid blend of multiple devotional and social genres. The article demonstrates that the event’s performative and affective characteristics cater to a range of individual framings of the shared ritual and allow for complex and multilayered modes of engaging with the practice of faith. Further, it argues that vernacular Islamic practices in the diaspora are not always tied to individuals’ expression of religious conviction and pursuit of piety. By depicting the material and sensory aspects of the space, the article suggests that such rituals can serve as sites for engaging in a mode of diasporic nostalgia that does not commonly have a place in Iranian communities’ nostalgic narratives of the homeland. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Journal of Middle East Women's Studies Duke University Press

The Ritual FusionIndividuality, Tradition, and Sensory Memory in Iranian Women’s Islamic Gatherings in Los Angeles

Journal of Middle East Women's Studies , Volume 18 (2) – Jul 1, 2022

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Copyright
Copyright © 2022 by the Association for Middle East Women’s Studies
ISSN
1552-5864
eISSN
1558-9579
DOI
10.1215/15525864-9767856
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

This article explores domestic religious practices of Iranian Muslim women in Los Angeles. In the diasporic context, Iranian women’s voluntary engagement in vernacular Islamic practices is often associated with an unreflexive pursuit of religion and lack of agency or with complicity with the Islamic Republic’s conservative brand of Shiism. To examine the complexities of such practices in the United States, this research relies on the ethnography of a monthly domestic gathering in LA that offers a hybrid blend of multiple devotional and social genres. The article demonstrates that the event’s performative and affective characteristics cater to a range of individual framings of the shared ritual and allow for complex and multilayered modes of engaging with the practice of faith. Further, it argues that vernacular Islamic practices in the diaspora are not always tied to individuals’ expression of religious conviction and pursuit of piety. By depicting the material and sensory aspects of the space, the article suggests that such rituals can serve as sites for engaging in a mode of diasporic nostalgia that does not commonly have a place in Iranian communities’ nostalgic narratives of the homeland.

Journal

Journal of Middle East Women's StudiesDuke University Press

Published: Jul 1, 2022

References