Accepted paper:

On predestination and irreverence in a Moroccan emigrant town

Author:

Alice Elliot (Goldsmiths, University of London)

Paper short abstract:

Tracing how young Moroccan women frame seemingly irreverent practices such as the use of make-up and encounters with emigrant men about town as ways to actively participate in their divine destiny, the paper develops a notion of predestination that propels, and compels, mundane action

Paper long abstract:

This paper speaks to the complex ethnographic conjuncture between theological imagination and everyday action. Drawing on my fieldwork in rural Central Morocco with young unmarried women, I trace the peculiar place the idea of Islamic predestination occupies in the actions the women perform on and through the self to actualize their conjugal futures. By tracing the cultivation of bodily techniques surrounding young women's search for their destined husbands, I tease out how the idea of a divinely predetermined future is not just a cardinal background for action, but itself a form of action with specific performative qualities. I aim to show, in particular, how the theological concept of predestination is actualized through what could be classified as irreverent practices, such as the knowledgeable use of make-up and encounters with emigrant men about town. Destiny, in this way, becomes not only a powerful 'grand scheme' providing the hazy contours to daily life, but also something that surfaces, in a thoroughly Weberian way, through the most mundane of actions.

panel P092
Destiny, fate, predestination: ethnographies of changing forms of political and intimate life