Politics of Worship in the Contemporary Middle East

Sainthood in Fragile States


In Sainthood in Fragile States, a wide range of social scientists explore the contested role of sainthood in the contemporary Middle East. By expanding the notion of sainthood to cover both the religious and secular ways of dealing with extraordinary events, people and things, the volume offers new insights into the way sainthood is embedded in various levels of everyday life, as well as national and international politics. The case studies highlight how fragility as a central aspect of sainthood is a productive force that often consolidates tales of the extraordinary, and is also the source of contesting social identities. Contributors include: Andreas Bandak, Mikkel Bille, Jürgen Frembgen, Sune Haugbolle, Angie Heo, Daniella Kuzmanovic, Edith Szanto, and Pnina Werbner.
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Biographical Note

Andreas Bandak is an anthropologist and PhD Fellow at University of Copenhagen. His research focuses on the Christian minorities in Syria. He has co-edited a special issue of Ethnos entitled Foregrounds and Backgrounds: Ventures in the Anthropology of Christianity (2012). Mikkel Bille holds a PhD in anthropology from UCL (2009) and is Assistant Professor at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. He has co-edited An Anthropology of Absence (2010), and co-authored Materialitet. En indføring i kultur, identitet og teknologi (2012) in Danish.

Table of contents

Acknowledgments List of Figures Introduction: Sainthood in fragile states - Andreas Bandak and Mikkel Bille Part I - Sustained Sainthood Contesting Fragile Saintly Traditions: Miraculous healing among Twelver Shi‘is in contemporary Syria - Edith Szanto Saints, Media and Minority Cultures: On Coptic cults of Egyptian revolution from Alexandria to Maspero - Angie Heo Part II: Contested Representations Enigmas of a Pakistani Warrior Saint: Interrogating media conspiracies in an Age of Terror - Pnina Werbner The Samer, the Saint and the Shaman: Ordering Bedouin heritage in Jordan - Mikkel Bille Part III: Indeterminate Sainthood Our Lady of Soufanieh: On knowledge, ignorance and indifference among the Christians of Damascus - Andreas Bandak Ecstatic Sainthood and austere Sunni Islam: A majzūb in northern Pakistan - Juergen Frembgen Part IV: Secular Sainthood Imbued with Agency: Contesting notions of the extraordinaryness of Türkan Saylan - Daniella Kuzmanovic The Secular Saint: Iconography and ideology in the cult of Bashir Jumayil - Sune Haugbolle


Students and scholars interested in the intersections of politics, piety, and power in the contemporary Middle East, and scholars of religion, anthropologists, and sociologists working on sainthood.