Western Sufism

Western Sufism

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Burhaniya in Italy

A new article on the Burhaniya in Italy: Paola Abenante, “Essentializing Difference. Text, knowledge and ritual performance in a Sufi brotherhood in Italy,” The e-Journal of Economics & Complexity 2, no. 1 (May 2016), pp. 51-68.

The paper explores the different and competing understandings of ‘proper Islamic praxis’ between Egyptian Muslim immigrants and Italians converts to Islam within the Italian branch of an Egyptian-Sudanese Sufi brotherhood, in Rome. The Italian brethren foreground intellectual engagement with texts and scriptures over ritual performance and the role of the body, elements to which immigrants instead give prominence. I suggest that such polarization and the reasons of its persistence may be best understood by focusing on the performative role of cultural essentialisms against immigrants and of stereotypes concerning the definition of ‘orthodox’ Islam circulating in Italy and beyond. Whereas these prosaic essentialisms and binaries do not actually map socio-cultural realities, they are on their turn performative: essentialised discourses orient everyday praxis, make sense of experience and support forms of empowerment and of domination within the brotherhood.

No comments:

Post a Comment