Accepted Paper:

The Rufai order in Croatia through an ethnomusicological and a gender perspective  


Željka Petrović Osmak (Ethnographic Museum)
Tihana Rubic (University of Zagreb)

Paper short abstract:

The paper is based on observation and narrative interviews, both particular anthropological fieldwork methods. The short-term ethnographic fieldwork was conducted among dervishes of the Rufai order, situated in Pehlin (improvised settlement, town of Rijeka, Adriatic Coast) while celebrating Nevruz (22.3.). In general, the intention of the research was to gather deeper insights into the question of minorities as a whole, as well as the different aspects of social and religious life of minority groups in Croatia.

Paper long abstract:

Dervishes from the Rufai order in Rijeka are mostly immigrants from Albania and Kosovo, and as such they form an ethnic and religious minority group in Croatia. In this paper we examine the ways in which the self-identity is constructed through by having specific musical skills or, on the other hand, being a woman. The research was conducted from two different sights, both according to our individual research interests. Firstly, the role and status of being a “professional” musician as well as the use of traditional musical instruments were examined from an ethnomusicological perspective. Secondly, particular dervish women’s experiences of rituals were to be observed from a gender perspective.

Both music and traditional musical instruments play relevant role in religious ceremonies within Rufai order in Pehlin. Both present the overlapping and central performing element which follows movements and text.

Women’s experiences of rituals seem to mainly reflect everyday social life within a dervish community. Since women and men are traditionally spatially separated while participating in a religious ceremony (singing, pronouncing the ritual text, swinging, etc.), in this research space is being considered as a projection of symbolic meanings and social and cultural patterns implemented therein. The attention was directed on how feminine spirituality and religiosity is constructed and obtained, and what part of it is eventually determined by silence and oppression or autonomy and creativity.

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