EASA2018: Staying, Moving, Settling

(P100)
Migration, tourism, business: reconfiguring Muslim pilgrimage through the lens of women's new mobilities
Location SO-F299
Date and Start Time 16 Aug, 2018 at 09:00
Sessions 2

Convenors

  • Marjo Buitelaar (University of Groningen) email
  • Viola Thimm (University of Hamburg) email
  • Manja Stephan-Emmrich (Institute for Asian and African Studies, Humboldt University of Berlin) email

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Short abstract

In this panel, possibilities to reconfigure modern Muslim pilgrimage through women's new mobilities will be discussed. The main focus will lie on a new sense of reflecting Muslim pilgrimage in relation to globalized mobility, commercialization and processes of feminization.

Long abstract

The explosive growth of the Mecca pilgrimage is a distinctively Muslim contribution to globalization with far-reaching political, economic and social ramifications. Integrated into local tourism industries, Meccan, but also local pilgrimage gets absorbed by a market-driven economy and Islamic consumerism. The latter is above all served by the new urban middle -classes in many parts of the Muslim world including diaspora societies in Europe. These new Muslim middle-classes are, in turn, mainly involved in the commodification and marketization of the Hajj and the Umrah pilgrimage and certain local pilgrimage sites. Most strikingly, in some parts of Asia, and beyond, transnational labor migration, mobile entrepreneurship and new urban middle-class religiosities are highly feminized.

Taking these interlinkages between globalized mobility, commercialization as well as processes of feminization as a starting point, the panel aims at reconfiguring our understanding of modern Muslim pilgrimage through the lens of women's new mobilities. We welcome papers with a gender perspective on topics such as moral economies, social mobility/class matters, evolving job markets for women in the Mecca pilgrimage business, or the re-framing of religious experience through transport infrastructure, consumerism and new media technologies. We also invite papers addressing the related processes of 'moving', 'dwelling' and 'crossing' in order to tackle the 'rootedness' of Muslim women's pilgrimage experiences in various backgrounds and contexts. Finally, we will look at the long-term implications of Muslim women's new mobilities on the refashioning of identity and multiple forms of belonging.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Women's Power as Pilgrims: Narratives of Moroccan Women on the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Author: Kholoud Al Ajarma (Groningen University) email
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Short abstract

This article explores the relationship between gender and power relations related to Muslim pilgrimage (Hajj) in women's everyday life in Morocco.

Long abstract

Until recently, most Moroccans tended to associate Hajj performance with men rather than women, whom they associate with more local pilgrimages to saint shrines. Things are changing, however, and more female pilgrims are able to perform the pilgrimage today. However, women face many challenges before they are able to perform pilgrimage to Mecca. By examining the role of the Hajj in the lives of contemporary Moroccan women, I look at the power dynamics between male and female pilgrims. When and how do women decide to perform Hajj? Who pays their expenses? What are the social consequences of becoming a "Hajja"? How do women react to the authority of men and issues of equality in relation to pilgrimage? This paper also touches on the symbolic capital women gain among the local community after performing the pilgrimage. Approaching Hajj from the perspective of 'lived religion', I discuss how the significance of pilgrimage is incorporated into women's daily lives in Morocco and how women reflect on their pilgrimage experience in relation to their local communities, power relations, social practices and gender differences. The presentation will also feature a short film about women's pilgrimage in Morocco.

Women's Pilgrimage to Fatima-Masoumeh's Shrine in Qom: Leisure, Mobility and Religious Practice

Author: Ladan Rahbari (Ghent University) email
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Short abstract

Iranian Shiite women practice pilgrimage to Fatima-Masoumeh's shrine in single-sex trips where boundaries of leisure, tourism and religious practice are blurred. While they view the pilgrimage as a spiritual and religious journey, they also interpret it as a political Shiite practice.

Long abstract

Twelver Shiite pilgrimage tradition includes Haj as well as visitations to the shrines of Shiite Imams, Imam's (grand)children, and relatives. One pilgrimage site is Fatima-Masoumeh's shrine in Qom (Iran). Fatima-Masoumeh was the seventh Imam's daughter and the eighth Imam's sister in Twelver Shiism. Her shrine is a site of pilgrimage especially attractive for Muslim Shiite women because of her life story, personal characteristics, and political imagery. Masoumeh's birthday anniversary is the official 'Girls' Day' in Iran as she is the Shiite symbol of virginity and political activism through voluntary singlehood. It is believed that Masoumeh's grace insures younger women's piety and facilitates the adoption of a proper hijab in the form of chador. Today, Iranian Muslim women's pilgrimages to visit Masoumeh take place as individual and collective visitations in groups sometimes consisting only of women and girls. The single-sex trips are characterized as spiritual journeys where boundaries of leisure, tourism and religious practice are blurred. Conservative religious women - in their best chadors scented with rose water - can interact, laugh and pray while they perform pilgrimage without the limitations they face in mixed-gender spaces. By going on these journeys - usually in their own vehicles - women create bonds and connect their own experiences to Masoumeh's life events. While women practice pilgrimage for an array of individual reasons and as a religious obligation, visiting Masoumeh is also seen as a political practice that corroborate the 'minority' position of Shiism in Islamic history.

Youth, Activism and Ziarah: Young Women Activists on Muslim Pilgrimage in Contemporary Indonesia

Author: Anwar Masduki (University of Groningen) email
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Short abstract

This paper attempts to look at how young women activists perform and interpret their pilgrimage (ziarah) to local, mostly male saints and how the actual performance of pilgrimage influences and/or inspires their consciousness of gender issues in their own activism.

Long abstract

Pilgrimage studies in Indonesia mainly focus on the issues of pilgrims' motivation, religious tourism, sacred geography, and the figure of the holy person buried at the visited shrines. Women's agency and gender issues tend to be overlooked in these studies. This paper attempts to remedy this by looking at how young women activists perform and interpret their pilgrimage (ziarah) to local, mostly male saints and how the actual performance of pilgrimage influences and/or inspires their consciousness of gender issues in their own activism. The paper is based on research in Jombang, East Java where a new instance of local pilgrimage to the tomb of Abdurrahman Wahid, ('Gus Dur'), the fourth President of Republic of Indonesia and former chairman of Nahdlatul Ulama, who died in 2009, attracts many pilgrims. On the basis of interviews with some young women activists from some youth organizations in Jombang who visit the shrine, this paper demonstrates the impact of pilgrimage activities on the gender consciousness of these female activists. Although most holy persons these women visit are men, such visits are among the key factors to enhance their activism and the way they run their organizations. The paper therefore provides rich insights in the interplay among the issue of youth, activism and pilgrimage in contemporary Indonesia.

Keywords: Youth, Activism, Pilgrimage, Gender issues, Gus Dur, Muslim Sainthood

Hajjah Jawa: Gender Dynamics in the Early Twentieth-Century Hajj Pilgrimage

Author: Tika Ramadhini (Humboldt Universitat zu Berlin, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient) email
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Short abstract

This paper examines gender dynamics of the hajj pilgrimage in the early twentieth century, specifically among women from the Malay-Indonesian archipelago.

Long abstract

In the turning of the twentieth-century, the female pilgrims from the Dutch East Indies (modern-day Indonesia) who were called as the Jawah women in the colonial records, grew in numbers and made up almost 30% of the total pilgrims from the region. This increased participation was a result of better maritime technology and routes, as well as the involvement of the colonial government in the management of the Hajj in the late nineteenth-century, which brought changes in the practice of Hajj pilgrimage, including among the women.

This paper examines gender dynamic as a consequence of these changes, by proposing questions such as; how did gender play a role in the cross-border movement like hajj? What spaces did women come to dwell in the hajj practices in the early twentieth century? How did female spaces differ across different regions?

Some important figures like the female muthawifs, which was a novel profession in the early twentieth century, will be highlighted. Other figures like female teachers and female sellers catering the needs of the growing female pilgrims are also the focus of the discussion.

This paper will contribute a new point of view to the historiography and the study of hajj in general.

Commodification of the Hajj and self representation of Moroccan-Dutch female pilgrims

Author: Khadija Kadrouch Outmany (University of Groningen) email
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Short abstract

A growing number of Moroccan-Dutch women join the Hajj. How they bring back and share their Hajj experience in the Netherlands, is part of a changing lifestyle influenced by a "Dutchization" of rituals. Similarly, new ways are emerging in which traditional souvenirs are shared as commodities.

Long abstract

Among the younger generation of Moroccan-Dutch female pilgrims there is a changing way of celebrating the Hajj. Their homecoming and departure is characterized by a lifestyle in which their belonging to various communities is emphasized. Farewell-high teas, homecoming showers with sweet-tables and giveaways, hajj-greeting cards and banners are only some examples. Besides the traditional souvenirs such as clothing, prayer rugs and ZemZem water these young pilgrims also bring back modern graphically designed I-Phone cases, t-shirts and mugs. Where in the past home coming parties were focused on celebrating the save return of the hajjis and sharing food with the poor, nowadays the gatherings seem to have a lot of similarities to a great party.

On the basis of participant observation among a group of Dutch pilgrims during the Hajj of 2016, I will discuss in this paper how the consumption of material objects, quite common in relation to pilgrimage, is "Dutchized" by Moroccan Dutch female pilgrims. I will illustrate how the commodities transform the intangible spiritual experience of pilgrims into something palpable and at the same time infuse them with pilgrims' belonging to both the Dutch and Moroccan communities. Such trading of a set of material objects as commodities, is also the results of marketization of the sacred by especially female entrepreneurs and fits into a broader changing lifestyle of celebrating rituals in a "Dutch" way.

Israeli Dead Sea Cosmetics and Charity for Palestinian Children: Feminized Inter-Religious Competition among Indonesian Jerusalem Pilgrims

Author: Mirjam Lücking (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem) email
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Short abstract

This paper discusses how Muslim and Christian Indonesians emphasize their religious affiliation during pilgrimages to Jerusalem. It describes Indonesian women's central role in negotiating religious identities, class affiliation and gender ideals through souvenir purchases and charitable activities

Long abstract

Besides Mecca, another highly popular destination in Indonesia's growing halal tourism industry is Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem. Strikingly, Muslim package tours to Jerusalem resemble Christian 'Holy Land Tours', which are popular among Indonesia's Christian minority of 24 million people. While Christian and Muslim Indonesians' itineraries to Israel, the Palestinian territories, Jordan and Egypt overlap, their travel narratives and worldviews compete and back home their lives are increasingly separated. This paper analyzes the feminization of economic and interreligious competition among Indonesian Jerusalem pilgrims.

Indonesian pilgrimage-tourists, travel agents and guiding clerics engage in the growing market of religious tourism as members of a specific religious group. Distinctive clothing styles, the use of a certain jargon, travel narratives and moral ideals concerning gender relations mark differences between Christian and Muslim Indonesians. However, when it comes to souvenir purchases Christian as well as Muslim Indonesian women appear to have a similar taste. Yet, even though they sometimes buy the exact same products, most prominently Israeli Dead Sea cosmetics, their spending during pilgrimage trips enhances interreligious competition. Souvenir purchases as well as other financial transactions - like alms giving - are embedded in moralizing narratives. These moralizing narratives relate to globalized discourses of Islamophobia on the one hand and global Muslim solidarity on the other hand. Ethnographic snapshots reveal women's vital role in these discourses related to souvenir purchase and charity. Women are not only the main spenders, they also exploit the social capital of their spending through online and offline representations of travel experiences.

Pilgrimage as a Construction of the Pilgrim Body

Author: Tereza Picková (Charles University in Prague) email
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Short abstract

I want to look at pilgrimage from the perspective of anthropology of the body, and describe it as a construction of a four- dimensional habitus called Pilgrim body. I will present strategies used to gain such, and try to answer the question how to use this "new body" after the pilgrimage is over.

Long abstract

My approach focuses on the changing face of Europe's most massive pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which I use as a case study to show, how todays pilgrims understand their experience. Through the analysis of interviews with 9 other pilgrims and my own auto-ethnographic diary with a strong dose of reflexivity I want to show, that pilgrimage can be understood as a process of constructing a Pilgrim body. To gain such form of habitus, or in other words "to become a pilgrim", is achieved through several different strategies, such as walking, socialising, solitude, separation (from everyday life), asceticism, and others. This experience results in a form of gained habitus, or a technique of the body (Mauss 1968) which can be learnt, and used in everyday life after the pilgrimage ends. Pilgrim body is then a complex skill, consisting of physical, psychical, spiritual and social dimension, each describing different aspect of the pilgrimage itself, all embodied in the physical body of a pilgrim. Through such approach I want to show, that we might understand pilgrimage as a form of physical experience with transcendental overlap, focused mainly on individual progress, but constructed together in friendly communitas of pilgrims, described by Victor Turner in his classic study (Turner 2004). Usage of these benefits gained from pilgrimage, and life of Pilgrim body in everyday life will be discussed as well.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.