An Ethnography of a Community's Re-appropriation of Yārsān in Cyberspace: The Facebook Phenomenon

in Journal of Religion, Media and Digital Culture
Open Access

This article presents a nuanced approach for qualitative research on the Internet, based on the synthesis of qualitative data-gathering methodologies both online and offline, and contributes to recent knowledge of changing practices within Yārsāni communities around the world. Yārsān is a religious belief of Indo-Iranian origin that traces back to Hooraman, a region in Iranian Kurdistan. Yārsān thought, which Islamic Shiite authorities treat as heretical, has extensively used processes of adaptation and strategies of survival throughout the course of its history.

The research presented here makes a case for the significance of the Internet and, more specifically, social network sites in connecting Yārsānis in their homelands and in the diaspora. How does Facebook provide a new space for this minority group to disclose their beliefs to the world, thereby reassessing the clandestine nature of their religion, which is a tenet required by traditional belief and defined by their adage, “don’t tell the secret”?

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