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Abstract

This article imagines a conception of Sindh that rejects the bounded ethnolinguistic region created through colonial-modern philology and administration. I explore affective geographies produced through singing, storytelling, and traveling in relation to the poetry of Sufi mystic Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai (1689–1752) by his past and present devotees, drawing on the idea of region as a meshwork of movements created through lived lines of wayfaring, to borrow a concept from Tim Ingold. Focusing on the melodic chapters of verses (Surs) in Shah Jo Rāg, a repertoire for singing Latif’s poetry by specialist devotees (rāgī faqīrs), I reconstruct two kinds of movement. First, traces of historical movement from less-acknowledged Surs in Shah Jo Rāg and the Ganj, an early manuscript. Second, contemporary movements inspired by Surs based on two popular romances, from the narratives of Latif’s devotees. These movements reveal processes of des-making: creating entanglements to a relational and cumulative des (“land, country”).

In: Philological Encounters

Abstract

Bhit Shah is the abode of venerated Sufi mystic Shah Abdul Latif Bhittai. During the last few decades, the saint’s shrine has also become a center for Shi’i practices of ‘azādārī – mourning congregations in memory of Imam Husain. This article contributes to the literature on intertwining Sufi and Shi’i practices by examining how saintly and Husaini devotion repertoires converged in the Bhit Shah area and how this convergence contributed to transformations in ritual action and identity over the twentieth century. We explore how local devotees started adopting the remembrance of Imam Husain and Karbala through devotion to Shah Latif, which initially took place without changes in the devotees’ religious affiliation. However, with the precolonial Talpurs’ influence and interaction with other devotees from Shi’i urban centers of Sindh, many residents began to affirm Twelver Shi’a identification and expand their mourning practices in space and duration.

In: Journal of Sindhi Studies