Accepted Paper:

The experience of diversity and mutuality through an ethnography and historical anthropology of Islam in Albania  


Mentor Mustafa (Boston University)

Paper short abstract:

The interplay between diversity and mutuality in constructing Muslim identity in post-communist Albania is documented in the everyday lives of Bektashi Muslims. Inter-faith relations between Albanian Bektashi, Sunni Muslims, and Orthodox and Catholic Christians of Albania are considered here.

Paper long abstract:

Here I present dissertation fieldwork data on the experience of Islam in contemporary Albania. The focus is on religious understandings and ritual practices amongst the Albanian Bektashi - a Sufi Order of Islam - as well on their ways of life and socio-political participation. The ethnographic narratives presented here focus on the contemporary experiential manifestations of diversity and mutuality within the context of Albanian Bektashi and their relations to Sunni Muslims along with the Albanian Christians of Orthodox and Catholic faiths. These materials are complimented by data sets offered by a historical anthropology of Bektashiyya, and present these from a perspective of inter- and intra-faith dialogue.

The historical-anthropological perspective employed here is mobilized in order to understand the post-communist return of religion in Albania. How was religion experienced in "atheist" Albania? What can we recover from the historical accounts of the establishment and persistence of world religions in Albania that better addresses questions of Albanian religiosity? Aside from seeking answers to the above questions, I document present-day commitments to inter-faith dialogue within a multi-religious context.

Panel W098
Islam within and across religiously diverse communities: case studies from Muslims in the Balkans and Europe