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  • Author or Editor: Younes Saramifar x
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This article critiques anthropological approaches such as Victor Turner’s and his epigones that reduce objects to sets of meanings, functions and attributes either located in-between matter and reality or in some liminal realm. I borrow from my ethnographic encounters among the Shia nonstate armed combatants in the Middle East since 2007 and especially focus on nonideological/nonreligious elements of conflict such as materiality of combat, material expressions of violence, and pain and pleasure, to find a fresh location for the so-called in-between that upends dualities and dichotomies without compromising on how human and nonhuman relate, how they co-constitute realities and become religious through meanings and representations. By way of guns, martyrdom, and religion, this article pays attention to religion without centering religiosity, religious practices, and religion. Instead, it follows how things gather around religion without becoming religious. In other words, I follow how things of conflict relate to religion, shape religiosity, and collaborate with believers. This is an intentional academic choice, namely, to talk about religion without engaging with religion explicitly to highlight nonhuman partners in religiously framed political violence. I propose a deeper engagement with conflict cosmologies beyond anthropological methodological routines which limit objects to a bundle of qualities both in appearances and meanings or overspreading objects to the sum of their relationships, like Actor Network Theory.

Open Access
In: Material Perspectives on Religion, Conflict, and Violence