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Sandrine Ruhlmann

For Mongols, sharing food is more than just eating meals. Through a process of “opening” and “closing”, on a daily basis or at events, in the family circle or with visitors, sharing food guarantees the proper order of social relations. It also ensures the course of the seasons and the cycle of human life. Through food sharing, humans thus invite happiness to their families and herds. Sandrine Ruhlmann has lived long months, since 2000, in the Mongolian steppe and in the city. She describes and analyzes in detail the contemporary food system and recognizes intertwined ideas and values inherited from shamanism, Buddhism and communist ideology. Through meat-on-the-bone, creamy milk skin, dumplings or sole-shaped cakes, she highlights a whole way of thinking and living.

Studies in Armenian Art

Collected Papers

Series:

Nira Stone

Edited by Michael E. Stone and Asya Bereznyak

Nira Stone (1938-2013) was a scholar of Armenian and Byzantine Art. Her broad and close acquaintance with the field of Armenian art history covered many fields of Armenian artistic creativity. Nira Stone made notable contributions to the study of Armenian manuscript painting, mosaics, and other forms of artistic expression. Of particular interests are her researches on this art in its historical and religious contexts, such as the study of apocryphal elements in Armenian Gospel iconography, the place of the mosaics of Jerusalem in the context of mosaics in Byzantine Palestine, and of the interplay between religious movements, such as hesychasm, and Armenian manuscript painting.

Etan Kohlberg

Edited by Amin Ehteshami

In Praise of the Few: Studies in Shiʿi Thought and History is a selection of Etan Kohlberg’s research on Shiʿi Islam over a period of fifty years. It includes previously published articles, revised dissertation chapters, and a full bibliography of the author’s work. Divided into two parts, the collection begins with chapters from Kohlberg’s Oxford doctoral dissertation (1971) and related articles that investigate Sunni and Shiʿi views on the Prophet’s Companions and debates concerning the extent of their authority as sources of religious knowledge. Part Two traces the doctrinal and historical developments pertaining to various dimensions of Imāmī Shiʿi intellectual tradition such as theology, hadith, law and jurisprudence. and exegesis.

Thus Spake the Dervish

Sufism, Language, and the Religious Margins in Central Asia, 1400-1900

Series:

Alexandre Papas

Thus Spake the Dervish explores the unfamiliar history of marginal Sufis, known as dervishes, in early modern and modern Central Asia over a period of 500 years. It draws on various sources (Persian chronicles and treatises, Turkic literature, Russian and French ethnography, the author’s fieldwork) to examine five successive cases, each of which corresponds to a time period, a specific socially marginal space, and a particular use of mystical language. Including an extensive selection of writings by dervishes, this book demonstrates the diversity and tenacity of Central Asian Sufism over a long period. Here translated into a Western language for the first time, the extracts from primary texts by marginal Sufis allow a rare insight into their world.

Maria Louw

Recent studies have convincingly demonstrated that Soviet state atheism continues to influence how religion is understood and practiced in present-day Central Asia. In Kyrgyzstan, however, a new generation of atheists is emerging whose ideas about atheism—and about religion—are informed more by globally circulating neo-atheist ideas and images. This paper explores their efforts to live atheist lives and be true to their atheist convictions, and the images of religion that play into the process. Focusing on the role of social media in particular, I will argue that while many, at least initially, embrace these platforms as ways to encounter like-minded individuals and experience moral community, what they encounter there are often images of atheism and its religious “others” with which they cannot identify and which often seem irrelevant to the challenges of everyday life, in which coexistence with (and caring for) religious others are central concerns for many.

Benjamin Gatling

For many members of the Tajik governing elite, Muslim piety remains problematic—a stubborn, socially regressive holdover of anti-modern Tajiks—and Muslim leaders are often thought of merely as anachronistic cultural survivals. This paper interrogates the depiction of Muslim exemplars as they appear on Tajik state television by comparing a 2009 documentary about the life of Imomi Abūḣanifa, the eponymous founder of the Ḣanafī school of jurisprudence, with an exposé about Ėshoni Temur, a local Naqshbandī Sufi pir tried and convicted in 2015 for polygyny and various indeterminate offenses against official notions of Muslim religiosity. This article considers different regimes of Muslim alterity as depicted on state media and argues that the Tajik governing elite alternately renders problematic Islam as innocuous heritage or in need of swift extermination.

Eren Tasar

This paper takes stock of “Islamic media” in the ussr by reviewing the kinds of sources that are available for the study of Islam in the Soviet Union, and, more importantly, exploring how social historians can use them. What follows is a detailed discussion of three genres of materials: anti-religious propaganda; correspondence of the official organizations engaged with Islam; and what, for convenience’s sake, I will term Islamic samizdat (popular religious literature and the few available autobiographies of ‘ulama).

Diana T. Kudaibergenova

This article examines diverse perceptions and discourses of Islam, fundamentalism, spirituality, and culture in the contemporary Central Asian context, revealed through the study of contemporary art and its discussions about these phenomena. While many online sources and social media accounts provide a framework for different types of religiosity—cultural, pious, or fundamental—contemporary art in the region serves as a platform for critiquing religion as a whole. I use the examples of the most famous works by prominent Central Asian contemporary artists, who discuss Tengriism, Islam, and other religious practices in their works, performances, and videos. The diversity of online platforms that transfer discussions of Islam and religion to the digital forums through which third-wave artists promote their works also create space for more pluralistic views of—and discourses on—Islam.

Wendell Schwab

There is an ongoing debate in Kazakhstani mass media over what constitutes proper Islamic belief and conduct. This paper examines a running dispute between Zikiriya Zhandarbek, an intellectual based at a university in southern Kazakhstan, and scripturalist Islamic institutions, such as the Kazakhstani Muftiate and the Islamic television channel Asyl Arna. In his tirades against “Salafist” and “untraditional” members of the Muftiate and Asyl Arna, Zhandarbek uses rhetoric inviting identification with domestic traditions and Akhmed Yasawi, a local Sufi saint. Conversely, scripturalists’ rhetoric identifies them as scholars working to revive knowledge of the Qur’an and Islam. However, both parties claim to represent the Kazakh nation, showing the overwhelming importance of nationalist rhetoric in Kazakhstan today.