Activities

Faith-based Activism, Charity, and the Maxims of Governance in Contemporary Shi‘i Politics

28 -31 Oct

Organized by: Fouad Gehad Marei (University Of Birmingham).

Panel organised at the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). Montreal, Canada. This panel examines the role of faith-based and religiously-motivated activism in contemporary Shi‘i politics as well as the triangulation of Shi‘i politics and global shifts in development practice, maxims of governance, and hybrid regimes of rule. Panelists will probe into the hybridified forms of governance and development practices that emerge from the intersection of faith-based activism and global political transformations. Panelists will examine transnational ties between the Middle East, East Africa, Europe and the U.K. We also interrogate the role of faith-based Shi‘i non-state providers (NSPs) and sub- and supranational aid-economy actors in the context of postwar reconstruction and urban revitalization, and examine hybrid regimes of rule in the Islamic Republic of Iran, where authoritarianism and electoral democracy are mutually reinforcing.

URL:https://mesana.org/annual-meeting/current-meeting

Montreal, Canada.

Rewiring the House of God: Religious Self-World Relations in the Digital Environment (eFaith)

15 -17 Sep

Organized by: Gabriel Malli (University of Graz) and Fouad Gehad Marei (University of Birmingham).

This workshop addresses the amplified importance of faith-related digital practices and devices, recognising that people of faith have been entangled with the effects and conditions of the digital environment for decades. It interrogates the relationship between digital technologies and religious life-worlds and examines the mutually transformative relationship between digital technologies and contemporary modes of religiosity, with a particular interest in three broad themes: (a) religious subjectivities and digital technologies, (b) communities of faith in an era of digital culture, and (c) the occult and other-worldly in the digital environment. As part of the iFaith workshop, thirteen pre-circulated draft articles will be workshopped by experts in the fields of ‘digital religion’, mediatization of religion, and religion on the internet: Prof. Gary Bunt (University of Wales) Dr. Christph Günther (University of Mainz) Dr. Tim Hutchings (University of Nottingham) and Prof. Mia Lövheim (Uppsala University). iFaith is a collaboration between the Department of Theology and Religion at the University of Birmingham and the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt.

URL:https://www.uni-erfurt.de/en/max-weber-kolleg/kolleg/recent-news/events/eventdetail/rewiring-the-house-of-god-religious-self-world-relations-in-the-digital-environment

Online.

Transformative Resilience: Global Adaptations of Shi‘i Islam in Times of Radical Change

30 Aug

Organized by: Nada Al-Hudaid and Fouad Gehad Marei (University of Birmingham).

Workshop session at the European Association for the Study of Religion (EASR) annual conference. Pisa, Italy, on 30 August — 3 September 2021. In this workshop session, we examine modes of adaptation and resilience of Shi‘i Islam in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, focusing on: (a) the modernization and consolidation of the Ḥawza (seminary center for the education of Shi‘i clergymen), (b) the activities of globally interconnected Shi‘i public intellectuals, (c) the social life of diasporic and exilic Shi‘is in Europe, and (d) the ritual cultures and artistic expressions of Shi‘i Islam. The workshop session includes nine interventions by ten presenters. In the first part, we examine the intellectual and exegetical legacies of twentieth-century Shi’i scholars, whose contributions constituted a major shift in Islamic social theory. We argue that they contributed to the resilience of Shi‘i Islam in the face of immense socio-cultural transformations brought about by the advent of modernity and secularization. In the second part, we investigate intellectual connections between Shi‘is in Europe and the Middle East, showing how a hybridized Shi‘ism emerges through processes of translation and transnatioanlization. We show how second-generation European Shi‘is develop and practice transnational engagements and attachments We also examine the role ritual lamentation poetry and ritual purveyors in cultivating and promulgating globalised and trans-localized imaginaries.

URL:https://www.easr2021.org/

Pisa, Italy.

Lamenting Karbala in Europe: Husayni liturgy and discourses of dissent amongst Lebanese Shi‘is in Europe

28 -29 May

Organized by: Sanam Roohi (University of Göttingen) and Andreas Pettenkofer (University of Erfurt).

Based on an analysis of ritual recitations by a Lebanese-Swedish ritual purveyor, or radud, this paper examines how lamentation poetry performed in Twelver Shi'i ritual gatherings is used to articulate political dissent and cultivate transnational imaginaries and engagement among diasporic Shi'i communities. Organisers of these ritual gatherings use ritual lamentation poetry to narrate and give meaning to geopolitical developments in the Middle East, especially in times of sectarianisation and the hyper-politicisation of religious identities in the Middle East as well as processes of globalisation and de-secularisation more globally. Ritual lamentation poetry thus becomes a medium for the de-territorialisation and up- or de-rooting of diasporic Shi‘is from their ancestral and diasporic ‘homelands’. Instead, they re-root and re-territorialise Shi‘is in new and translocal emotional geographies. The paper is informed by a multi-sited ethnographic study of male-dominated ritual spaces in Iraq, Lebanon and Sweden. Presentation at the online workshop Transnational Political Movements and the Imaginaries of the Homeland

URL:https://www.uni-erfurt.de/en/max-weber-kolleg/kolleg/recent-news/events/eventdetail/transnational-political-movements-and-the-imaginaries-of-the-homeland

Online.

'I, Too, Must Go [to Syria]': Shi’i ritual mourning and the traveling sounds of holy war.

27 -28 May

Organized by: Stefan Williamson Fa (University of Birmingham).

Paper presentation at the online workshop Sound and Voice in Contemporary Twelver Shi’i Islam (27—28 May 2021) In this paper, I present a melody which has featured in ritual mourning ceremonies in several countries and different contexts; from Iran and Iraq, to Syria, Lebanon, Sweden, Germany and Turkey. The melody I examine, is an example of the shūr, an Iranian recitational style deliberately intended to arouse extreme excitement and ignite a sensory-affective experience of passion and ecstasy. The original eulogy recitation by madāḥī (reciter), Sayyid Reza Narimani, took place in Iran, in 2015, at the a ceremony organised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and attended by the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, before gaining fame countrywide and beyond. In the original recitation, Narimani recited a poem by fellow Esfahani poet, Davoud Rahimi, inspired by the last will of 21-year-old Lebanese Hizbullah fighter, Ahmed Meshleb, better known by his nom de guerre, Gharīb Tūs. I analyse the melody and trace its appropriation by Narimani and other reciters for recitations in rural northern Iran, Beirut, Lebanon, Helsingborg, Sweden, at the Imam Ali shrine-mosque in Najaf, Iraq, as well as in music videos propagating the values of the IRGC while showing much resemblance to pop-culture music videos. I argue that the 'travelling lyrics' and ‘sticky sonics’ of Shii ritual lamentation and performativity constitute a sonic leitmotif, and an aural identity marker. The ‘identity’ they espouse or 'imagined community’ with which they resonate is not one based on the isomorphism of people and territory. Instead, I posit that these sonic leitmotifs re-root and re-territorialise Shi‘is in a trans-temporal and translocal emotional geographies informed by Shi'i (hagiographic) pasts and (eschatological) futures.

URL:N/A.

Online.

Sound and Voice in Contemporary Twelver Shi’i Islam

27 -28 May

Organized by: The Alterumma project at the University of Birmingham

Thursday 27th - Friday 28th May 2021 - 14:00 - 17:00 (GMT+1)
To register and attend please email: s.j.williamsonfa@bham.ac.uk

This international workshop held online brings together new scholarship within anthropology, ethnomusicology and religious studies on sound and voice in Twelver Shi'i Islam.

Despite the growing body of work on sound and Islam, little attention so far has been paid to sound in Shi'i Islam. Within Shi'i communities, the central and shared sounds of the recitation of the Quran and the adhan exist amongst additional forms of vocalised sonic expression. A vast range of supplications, laments and chants of praise and celebratory poetry are central to Shi'i devotion to Ahl al-Bayt, the Family of the Prophet. Within Twelver Shi'ism there is a surprising consistency in content and form of these genres worldwide. Yet, a huge diversity in style correlates with the wide geographic distributions of these communities.

Bringing together ethnographically-grounded contributions from the Middle East and South Asia, this workshop aims to consolidate current research on sound and voice in contemporary Twelver Shi'i Islam. In thinking about the politics and aesthetics of sound in these diverse settings we ask the question, how does Shi'ism sound? What parallels and divergences exist between the way sound is mobilised and engaged with in Shi'ism and in other Islamic pathways? How does sound mediate across social, political and conceptual boundaries- between communal groups in the public sphere, the secular and sacred, 'this-world' and the 'other-worldly'? What are the distinct aesthetic qualities of Shi'i devotion and how do they relate to poetics, theology, politics and society? Approaching the study of Shi'ism from a sonic perspective presents new ways of thinking about key issues such as transnationalism, cultural production and socio-political activism whilst further contributing to wider efforts to understand religion materially and sensorially.

Speakers:

Epsita Halder, Jadavpur University
Nabeel Jafri, University of Toronto
Timothy Cooper, University of Cambridge
Joseph Alagha, Haigazian University
Hamidreza Salehyar, University of Toronto
Maryam Aras, University of Bonn
Stefan Williamson-Fa, University of Birmingham

Online

Call for Papers: Sovereignty, Legitimacy and Authority in Twelver Shia Islam: Clerics and the State, Past and Present

20 May

Organized by: The Alterumma project at the University of Birmingham

A University of Birmingham Conference at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) Berlin The question of what constitutes legitimate authority – both religious and secular – has been a core theological concern of Twelver Shia Islam. Emerging with the question of the succession of the Prophet Muhammad, Twelver Shia theological discourse invested sole sovereignty and legitimate authority with the Imams, the male members of the ahl al-bayt, designated to lead the Muslim community. The occultation (ghayba) of the Twelfth Imam led to the emergence of the notion of the collective deputyship (al-niyaba al-‘amma) of the learned class within Twelver Shia Islam, the ‘ulama’, who assume some of the prerogatives of the Imam. From the period, Twelver Shia clerical authorities had to address the question to what extent secular political authority is legitimate and how to relate to it.

With the establishment of the first Twelver Shia state in Iran in the 16th century, clerics had to define their relationship to the Safavid dynasty and the extent of their support for it. During the Qajar period in 19th century Iran, Twelver Shia clerics assumed a more pro-active political role, considering themselves as mediators between the ruler and the people. The rise of the modern nation-state in the Middle East in the early 20th century led to debates around the role of the clergy in the state and the nature of an Islamic state. While Khomeini’s understanding of the “guardianship of the jurisconsult” (wilayat al-faqih) has been the most prominent and influential intervention, other models of clergy-state relations, that have emerged, do not advocate direct clerical involvement in the affairs of the government. Clerical figures nevertheless play a central role in Shia Islamist parties, networks and movements across the Middle East and South Asia, remaining thereby important political actors in the context of weak or failed nation-states, ripped by sectarian divisions, civil conflict and corruption.

This conference invites papers on the topic of clergy-state relations in Twelver Shia Islam, from the post-ghayba period (ca. 941 CE) to the present. Placing clergy-state relations in the context of Twelver Shia discourses on sovereignty, legitimacy and authority, the conference seeks to investigate clerical positions towards secular authority and power in different historical periods. While the focus of the conference will be the Middle East, it intends to adopt a wider geographical perspective with contributions welcome on similar debates in South Asia and other parts of world where Shia clerics were or have become influential political actors.

Papers can address - but are not restricted to - the following issues: - definitions of sovereignty in Twelver Shia theological and jurisprudential discourse - conceptions of legitimate political authority in Twelver Shia Islam - approaches and conceptions of clerical authority and its relation to secular power in Twelver Shia Islam - case studies of clergy-state relations from past and present - binary between clerical quietism and activism and its validity and relevance - clerical responses to the rise of the modern nation-state - role and position of Twelver Shia seminaries (hawza) in the context of the modern nation-state - conceptions of an Islamic state in modern and contemporary Twelver Shia discourse - role of clerical leadership in modern and contemporary Twelver Shia political movements - transnational and diasporic reach of clerical movements and networks - mediatisation of clerical authority as actors within the state and transnationally

Confirmed keynote speakers: Prof Andrew J. Newman (University of Edinburgh) Prof Rula Abisaab (McGill University)

The deadline for abstract submission is 15 March 2020. Abstracts of up to 300 words and a short bio of (up to 200 words) should be sent in MS Word format as an email attachment to alterumma@contacts.bham.ac.uk. For enquiries about the conference, contact Prof Oliver Scharbrodt (o.scharbrodt@bham.ac.uk). The conference is part of the Alterumma project, funded by the European Research Council and hosted at the University of Birmingham. The conference will take place at the Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin. A number of travel bursaries are available for conference presenters. Enquiries should be made to Prof Oliver Scharbrodt.

Timeline: Deadline for abstract submission: 15 March 2020 Notification of acceptance: 3 April 2020 Dates of the conference: 10-11 September 2020

Online.

Fouad Gehad Marei - Guest lecturer and author: “Governing and the State”.

07 Apr

Organized by: George Washington University (course instructor: Dr. Mona Atia).

In this lecture, I discuss with postgraduate students of Geographical Perspectives on the Middle East (George Washington University) my articles on urban reconstruction and revitalisation in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the politics of governing 'the ungovernable’. The articles assigned and discussed in class included Marei, F. G., et. al. 2018. Interventions on the politics of governing the “ungovernable”, (Political Geography, 67, 176—186) and Marei, F. G. 2020. Governing Dahiya: Interrogating the State in Beirut’s Southern Suburbs (Leadership and Developing Societies, 5 (1), 12–36). Part of the course Geographical Perspectives on the Middle East (GEOGRAPHY 6262), George Washington University (course instructor: Dr. Mona Atia).

URL:N/A.

Online.

Fouad Gehad Marei - • Guest lecturer: “Lebanon: History and Heritage in a House of Many Mansions”.

24 Jun

Organized by: University of Erfurt

In the first part of the lecture, I draw on Kamal Salibi’s A House of Many Mansions and the notion of 'historical fiction’. We see how the patchy work of historians and the fragments of evidence they gather constitute the fictions which, in turn, define and bind together political communities. These historical fictions provide cultural strategies of differentiation and a repository of identity markers, or the minefield of ‘historical’ symbols. In the second part of the lecture, we probe into the world of ‘warmusement’ in contemporary Beirut. We examine how different and competing actors are charged with memorialising, narrativising, and monumentalising memories of war and violence in post-Civil War Beirut. In the deafening absence of the state, these actors act as heritage-makers, canonising certain memories and fragments of historical evidence, and not others. Heritagisation through warmusement thus allows competing actors to selectively establish fragments of history as ‘inherent’ components of their heritage and an ‘essential’ component of their common identity, thereby contributing to the country’s divisive cultural politics of differentiation. Part of the course Die Levant in Quellen, University of Erfurt (course instructor: Prof. Omar Kamil, Chair of History of Western Asia).

URL:https://www.uni-erfurt.de/en/forschung/aktuelles/events

Online.

Shi'ism in a House of Many Mansions: The Case for Lebanon

09 Apr

Organized by: Shirin Zakeri (Sapienza University of Rome and OSMED) and Minoo Mirshahvalad (University of Turin).

Presentation at the online workshop Exploring Contemporary Shi’ism within European and Mediterranean Context (9 April 2021). This paper demonstrates how the life-worlds of Lebanon’s Shi‘is are shaped by the community’s entanglement in a) the complex alliances, power-sharing arrangements and geopolitical alignments characteristic of the Lebanese political system, b) the socioeconomic transformations that have affected the country’s Shi’i community as well as the intellectual legacy of Shi’i revisionist thinking and political activism since the mid-twentieth century, c) Lebanon’s media infrastructures and the legacy of free press, and d) the size and geographical dispersion of the Lebanese diaspora. I argue that these multiple factors have allowed the Lebanese Shia to play a significant and transformative role in the construction and consolidation of a Shia world / a Shia global as well as the expansion and consolidation of transnational linkages with and between the Middle East and Shi’i diasporas in Africa, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. I argue that this role far exceeds Lebanon and the Middle East, despite the Lebanese Shia constituting only 2% of the global Shi’i population and Lebanon occupying a relatively insignificant position in the global geographies of Shi'i scholarly training, pilgrimage, and philanthropy.

URL:https://rome.temple.edu/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/Leaflet-complete-9th-april.pdf

Online.

Diversifying Research on the Arab World

19 -22 Nov

Organized by: Arab Week in Mexico 2019

Panels at Ninth Arab Week in Mexico City, 19-26 November 2019. Members of the AlterUmma project participated at the Ninth Arab Week in Mexico City running two panels that aimed at diversifying research on the Arab world by discussing dynamics and developments in contemporary Arab Twelver Shiism. One panel investigated the aesthetics of Shia religious culture and included papers on different examples of Shia materiality such as religious paintings and the role of objects associated with important political and clerical figures in contemporary Twelver Shiism. Other papers discussed contestations around Shia ritual practices and theorised Shia aesthetic productions on a more general level. The second panel focussed on Twelver Shiism in Iraq including both local and transnational perspectives. Papers investigated the rise of Shia Islamist thought in Iraq, the role of Ayatollah Sistani in Iraqi politics and his engagement with the international community since 2003 and the role of transnational diasporic networks in shaping Iraqi political, religious and civic activism.

Mexico City

Divine Sovereignty, Morality and the State: Maududi and His Influence

05 Sep

Organized by: AlterUmma Project and Dr Humeira Iqtidar, King’s College London

Joint Workshop of the University of Birmingham and King’s College London, 5 September 2019 This workshop brought together new scholarship on the generative influence of Maududi’s notion of hakkimiyat and its reception by both Sunni and Shia Islamist thinkers and activists. Engaging critically with the circulation, variations and contestations of the notion of divine sovereignty, this workshop was the first major attempt at thinking through the implications of this important concept in contemporary politics. The workshop began with a discussion of Maududi’s theory of divine sovereignty before investigating the reception of his ideas by Sunni and Shia Islamist thinkers from Muhammad Baqir Al-Sadr to Yusuf Al-Qaradawi. Other papers examined how 20th century Shia thinkers envisioned the nature of the state and how the Islamic Revolution in Iran of 1979 was perceived by the major Pakistani Islamist party, the Jamaat-i Islami. Prof Muhammad Qasim Zaman (Princeton University) acted as discussant during the workshop.

King's College London, London

Where Politics and Temporality meet; Shi'a political transnationalism over time and its relationship to the Iraqi state Paper entitled, ‘Where Politics and Temporality meet; Shi’a political transnationalism over time and its relationship to the Iraqi state’ presented at the European International Studies Association, Sofia, Bulgaria 11-14 September 2019

11 -14 Sep

Organized by: European International Studies Assocation

Paper submitted by Dr. Oula Kadhum at the European International Studies Association. How do we explain change in political transnationalism over time? In what way does this change affect diasporic identities? And how does this change alter the relationship and power of diasporic actors towards their homeland states? This paper addresses these questions in relation to Iraqi Shi’a political transnationalism between London and Iraq pre and post-2003. I argue that the confluence of political opportunity structures and temporality have shaped Shi’a transnational practices. As political events in Iraq unfolded over time, Shi’a diaspora mobilisation patterns have changed in line with political opportunities/threats in the homeland structural context. Simultaneously, stressing the agency of actors, the temporal contexts of each period emphasised different Shi’a identities due to the interpretation of time by diasporic actors. Consequently as opportunities and temporalities shifted, political transnationalism towards Iraq also changed empowering different actors and causes. This relationship previously marked by a long-distance nationalism (Anderson, 1992), has evolved to a transnationalism rooted in different ontologies. Observing Shi’a political transnationalism over time reveals the changing actors, shifting power dynamics, transnational identity politics and the relationship between Shi’a diasporic actors and the Iraqi state.

Sofia, Bulgaria

Clerical Networks, Discourses and the State in Modern Twelver Shiism

16 Aug

Organized by: NSM

Panel at Eleventh Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies organised by the Nordic Society for Middle Eastern Studies, 14-16 August 2019, University of Helsinki. Members of the interdisciplinary AlterUmma project participated at the Eleventh Nordic Conference on Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Helsinki. The panel investigated the various ways that clerical networks and discourses have constructed the state in both Iran and Iraq by combining intellectual history with methods of political science. The panel began with an historical examination of the structure of clerical authority in Pahlavi Iran. From there, the papers showed the different ways that clerics imagined participation in the state. This included the discourses about the responsibility of the state to maximize human excellence, debates about the creation of shura councils since the 1960s, and the scope of authority of Ayatollah Sistani in the contemporary Iraqi state.

University of Helsinki, Helsinki

Clerical Networks, Discourses and the State in Modern Twelver Shi’ism

24 -26 Jun

Organized by: BRISMES

Panel at annual conference of British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), 24-26 June 2019, University of Leeds Members of the interdisciplinary ERC AlterUmma project participate at the 2019 BRISMES conference at the University of Leeds. The panel investigates the various ways that clerical networks and discourses have constructed the state in both Iran and Iraq by combining intellectual history with the quantitative and qualitative methods of political science. The panel begins by examining how clerical networks are formed with a quantitative focus on the clerical formation of Najaf and Qom. From there, the papers show the different ways that clerics imagined participation in the state. This includes the discourses about the responsibility of the state to maximize human excellence, debates about the creation of shura councils since the 1960s, and the scope of authority of Ayatollah Sistani in the contemporary Iraqi state.

University of Leeds, Leeds

Paper entitled, ‘Where Politics and Temporality meet; Shi’a political transnationalism over time and its relationship to the Iraqi state ’presented at the 26th International Conference of Europeanists

20 -22 Jun

Organized by: 26th International Conference of Europeanists

Paper submitted by Dr. Oula Kadhum at the 26th International Conference of Europeanists. How do we explain change in political transnationalism over time? In what way does this change affect diasporic identities? And how does this change alter the relationship and power of diasporic actors towards their homeland states? This paper addresses these questions in relation to Iraqi Shi’a political transnationalism between London and Iraq pre and post-2003. I argue that the confluence of political opportunity structures and temporality have shaped Shi’a transnational practices. As political events in Iraq unfolded over time, Shi’a diaspora mobilisation patterns have changed in line with political opportunities/threats in the homeland structural context. Simultaneously, stressing the agency of actors, the temporal contexts of each period emphasised different Shi’a identities due to the interpretation of time by diasporic actors. Consequently as opportunities and temporalities shifted, political transnationalism towards Iraq also changed empowering different actors and causes. This relationship previously marked by a long-distance nationalism (Anderson, 1992), has evolved to a transnationalism rooted in different ontologies. Observing Shi’a political transnationalism over time reveals the changing actors, shifting power dynamics, transnational identity politics and the relationship between Shi’a diasporic actors and the Iraqi state.

Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Madrid, Spain.

Paper entitled, ‘Where Politics and Temporality meet; Shi’a political transnationalism over time and its relationship to the Iraqi state’ presented at the Middle East History and Theory Conference, 3-5 May 2019, University of Chicago, paper, ‘Identity, transnationalism and power: transnational Iraqi Shia Politics pre and post the 2003 Iraq war’

03 -05 May

Organized by: Middle East History and Theory Conference.

Dr. Oula Kadhum submitted the following at the Middle East History and Theory Conference. How do we explain change in political transnationalism over time? In what way does this change affect diasporic identities? And how does this change alter the relationship and power of diasporic actors towards their homeland states? This paper addresses these questions in relation to Iraqi Shi’a political transnationalism between London and Iraq pre and post-2003. I argue that the confluence of political opportunity structures and temporality have shaped Shi’a transnational practices. As political events in Iraq unfolded over time, Shi’a diaspora mobilisation patterns have changed in line with political opportunities/threats in the homeland structural context. Simultaneously, stressing the agency of actors, the temporal contexts of each period emphasised different Shi’a identities due to the interpretation of time by diasporic actors. Consequently as opportunities and temporalities shifted, political transnationalism towards Iraq also changed empowering different actors and causes. This relationship previously marked by a long-distance nationalism (Anderson, 1992), has evolved to a transnationalism rooted in different ontologies. Observing Shi’a political transnationalism over time reveals the changing actors, shifting power dynamics, transnational identity politics and the relationship between Shi’a diasporic actors and the Iraqi state.

University of Chicago.

Clerical Networks, Discourses and the State in Modern Twelver Shiism

15 Apr

Organized by: BRAIS

Panel at the annual conference of the British Association for Islamic Studies (BRAIS), 15-15 April 2019. Members of the interdisciplinary ERC AlterUmma project participate at the 2019 BRAIS conference at the University of Nottingham. The panel investigates the various ways that clerical networks and discourses have constructed the state in both Iran and Iraq by combining intellectual history with the qualitative methods of political science. The panel begins by examining two distinct periods of the authority of the marajiʿ thalath or the three religious authorities in pre-revolutionary Iran. From there, the papers will show the different ways that clerics imagined participation in the state. This includes the discourses about the use of instrumental reason in state formation and policy, debates about the creation of shura councils since the 1960s, and the scope of authority of Ayatollah Sistani in the contemporary Iraqi state.

University of Nottingham, Nottingham

Paper entitled, ‘Where Politics and Temporality meet; Shi’a political transnationalism over time and its relationship to the Iraqi state’ presented at the International Politics of Middle Eastern Migration: Problems, Policy and Practice, University of Birmingham, 7-8 March 2019, Paper, ‘From long-distance nationalism to long-distance Shi’ism: Shia political transnationalism pre and post 2003’

07 -08 Mar

Organized by: International Politics of Middle Eastern Migration: Problems, Policy and Practice

Dr. Oula Kadhum submitted the following at the International Politics of Middle Eastern Migration: Problems, Policy and Practice. How do we explain change in political transnationalism over time? In what way does this change affect diasporic identities? And how does this change alter the relationship and power of diasporic actors towards their homeland states? This paper addresses these questions in relation to Iraqi Shi’a political transnationalism between London and Iraq pre and post-2003. I argue that the confluence of political opportunity structures and temporality have shaped Shi’a transnational practices. As political events in Iraq unfolded over time, Shi’a diaspora mobilisation patterns have changed in line with political opportunities/threats in the homeland structural context. Simultaneously, stressing the agency of actors, the temporal contexts of each period emphasised different Shi’a identities due to the interpretation of time by diasporic actors. Consequently as opportunities and temporalities shifted, political transnationalism towards Iraq also changed empowering different actors and causes. This relationship previously marked by a long-distance nationalism (Anderson, 1992), has evolved to a transnationalism rooted in different ontologies. Observing Shi’a political transnationalism over time reveals the changing actors, shifting power dynamics, transnational identity politics and the relationship between Shi’a diasporic actors and the Iraqi state.

University of Birmingham

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