Workshop “The Religious in Transition in the Mediterranean and the Middle East” — American University Of Beirut (AUB), 15-16/04/2019

The Religious in Transition in the Mediterranean and the Middle East


Le religieux en Méditerranée et au Moyen-Orient est régulièrement et communément perçu comme une source de radicalisations, de conflits et de violences. Cette perception, qui est souvent celle véhiculée par les médias, tend à agréger dans le temps et dans l’espace des phénomènes cependant complexes et souvent divers et différents. L’ambition de ces journées d’études est d’interroger la façon dont les formes, les pratiques et les modèles du religieux se diversifient localement tout en s’inscrivant dans un contexte de plus en plus globalisé. Il s’agira en particulier de montrer comment le religieux, tant au niveau des pratiques, des circulations et des mobilités que des modes de socialisation et des formes d’organisations sociales et politiques, connaît des transformations protéiformes, cela à des échelles et dans des temporalités et des espaces – méditerranéens, arabes, turcs et iraniens – à la fois différenciés et connectés.


Religion in the Mediterranean and the Middle East is regularly and commonly perceived as a source of radicalization, conflict and violence. This perception, which is often conveyed by the media, tends to aggregate, through time and space, phenomena that are however complex and often diverse and different. The ambition of this workshop is to question the way in which the forms, the practices and the models of the religious vary locally while being part of a more expansive and globalized context. It aims particularly to show how the religious, in its practices, circulations and mobilities, as well as its modes of socialization and forms of social and political organization, undergoes protean transformations, on scales and within temporalities and spaces – Mediterranean, Arab, Turkish and Iranian – that are differentiated and connected at once.

Dates et horaires

15 et 16 avril 2019, 9h – 18h


American University Of Beirut (AUB)


Monday, 15 April, Building 37 

1.00-1.30 PM: Introduction (Sylvain Perdigon, Thierry Boissière, Yoann Morvan)


1.30 – 2.30 PMAlexandre TOUMARKINE, historian (INALCO Paris / CERMOM).
KEYNOTE: Bosphorus encounters : the Dervish and the Yogi Islam as a tool for religious circulation”. This lecture sheds light on the many ways Islam in Turkey, through its various forms and actors, faced the recent emergence and spread of alternative spiritualities and therapies. It investigates how, despite an initially suspicious if not negative reception, it internalized, recycled and sometimes transformed them. Besides, it questions both the extent of these dynamics and their impact on the very definition of religion.

2.30 – 3.00 PMDilek YANKAYA, political scientist (IEP Aix-en-Provence / CHERPA). “Between da’wa and neoliberalism: contemporary renewals of Ottoman financial assistance practices as solution to economic crisis”

3.00 – 3.30 PMOlivier GIVRE, anthropologist (Université Lumière Lyon 2 / EVS). “Displaying Ritual Emotions, Circulating moral economics. Images of and Discourses on the Muslim Sacrifice”.

3.30-4.00 PM: BREAK

4.00 – 4.30 PMRayane AL RAMMAL, anthropologist (American University of Beirut). “The social Experience of Grief for Women Related to Hezbollah’s Martyrs in the Southern Suburb of Beirut Al-Dahiyeh”.

4.30 – 5.00 PMNoor DAHER, anthropologist (American University of Beirut). “The Hawza as Institutionalized Religion: Islam Performed by Women”.

5.00 – 5.30 PMSylvain PERDIGON, anthropologist (AUB). “A commentary: on piety and the quest for « the world » (al-dunya) in contemporary Beirut”.

5.30 – 6.00 PM: discussion

Tuesday 16 April West Hall Auditorium A


Chair : Dionigi ALBERA

9.00 – 10.00 AM: Dionigi ALBERA, anthropologist (CNRS / IDEMEC Aix-Marseille).
KEYNOTE: “Multi-faith Pilgrimages in a Comparative Perspective”. In this presentation I will address the issue of multi-faith attendance at places of pilgrimage. If this phenomenon has been often underestimated by theoretical developments in the study of pilgrimage, in the last few years there has been a renewed academic interest in the joint attendance at the same shrines by believers of different religions. The permeability of the frontiers between religious communities that one observes at shared shrines raises a number of issues concerning practices and sociability across religious divides, and their interactions with pervasive religious polarizations.

10.00 – 10.30 AMSabrina MERVIN, historian (CNRS / CéSor-EHESS Paris). “The Arbâ’în Pilgrimage : on the Path of Karbala”

10.00 – 11.00 AMSepideh PARSAPAJOUH, anthropologist, (CNRS / CéSor-EHESS Paris). “Pious Visits and Votive Messages to the Imam in Shiism: the Case of the ‘Ship of Delivrance’ from Qom to Karbala”.

11.00 – 11.30 AM: BREAK

11.30 – 12.00 AMManoël PENICAUD, anthropologist (CNRS / IDEMEC Aix-Marseille). “Pilgrimage Circulations and Innovations in a Shared Holy Place: the St. George Monastery in Istanbul”.

12.00 – 12.30 PMNour FARRA HADDAD, anthropologist (Université Saint-Joseph de Beyrouth). “Religious Tourism Development in Lebanon: Supporting Sustainable development and promoting a culture of peace and interfaith dialogue”

12.30 – 13.00 PM: discussion

13.00 – 14.00 PM: LUNCH


Chair : Fariba ADELKHAH

14.00 – 15.00 PMFariba ADELKHAH, anthropologist (CNRS / CERI Paris).
KEYNOTE: A few remarks on religious flows in the Middle East and Central Asia and their consequences on believers’ practices”. Religious flows in Middle East and Central Asia have a long or even very long history that gives a sense of continuity to the current dynamics in this region. However, they have been drastically affected by capitalist transformations for the last half century due to the development of an oil economy, massive urbanisation and neo-liberalism. Meanwhile, these flows also are part and parcel of the formation and reproduction of the nation-state, since they are deeply rooted in the wars that are challenging it in the region. 

15.00 – 15.30 PMNora LAFI, historian (ZMO Berlin). “Pilgrimage, trade and municipal institutions: local networks and global connections in the Ottoman Empire”.

15.30 – 16.00 PM : BREAK

16.00 – 16.30 PMPaul ANDERSON, anthropologist (Cambridge University). “Beyond Islam and Beyond Syria: The Role of ‘Aleppine Emotion’ and ‘Eastern Spirit’, in Fashioning Transnational Merchant Geographies in the 2000s”.

16.30 – 17.00 PMArmand AUPIAIS L’HOMME, anthropologist (IFEA Istanbul). “Westerners and Southerners on the Istanbul Evangelical Circuit”.

17.00 – 18.00 PM: discussion


AUB, IfpoIDEMECCéSorUniversity of Cambridge

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