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master's thesis

Tags: grad school

Outline - Forming the Present Through Husseiniyya Rituals

  • Each center chapter follows a single character and tries to focus the lens around them, zooming out to describe the concept
  • Goal is to move towards a theory of a constructed present
  • Starts with the center of the ritual (radood and audience), goes to describing the institutions, then goes to describe how a “normal” person participates

Introduction

  • Thesis: rituals as a sight of constructing the present
  • Lead in: evoking the Imam as a nearhuman construction (Johnson - Automatic Religion)
    • Various rituals of approaching the shrine
  • One understudied area is the role of the radood
  • Main key is that the majlis with radood is a specific form ritual that binds individual and society, future and past
  • Main questions to answer:
    • How do ritual participants view themselves? Do they see rituals as subsuming the self?
    • What about the “violent” nature of specific rituals?
    • How are these rituals sustained?
  • Look to al-Wardi lamahat vol 2

Chapter 1 - Majilis Husseini/al-3aza Experience

  • Mainly enthographic chapter
  • Main character might be Mutathir the radood
  • Main questions to answer:
    • What is it like to be in a ritual? Radood audience interaction to draw in the audience
    • Where do the rituals happen? What contexts are they performed in?
      • What are the casual forms of difference (between Pakistani, Iraqi, Indian, etc)
    • What is invoked and evoked with the ritual? Is it saddness for Hussein (as some ritual participants have said), or is it something more?
    • Banal nature of the rituals, and how it is not necessarily different than music festivals
      • The banality of these rituals actually make it much more interesting, because it reveals how easily new views of the world are fashioned even without a clear sacred/profane distinction
    • Look to Geertz here, what symbols are floating around? For Sahlins, what kind of kinship is being produced in this moment? How are the symbols alive here (al-Shur?)
      • Also potentially useful to look at Tanya Luhrmann’s work on Evanglicial Christian prayers and esoteric mental states of trance

Chapter 2 - Institutions of the Radoods and Mowkebs

  • Investigative chapter around what religious institutions sustain the radoods
  • Main character: Ali the radood school teacher
    • How does Ali engage by creating the institution of radoods
    • Who comes to school? What are their backgrounds?
  • Questions to answer
    • What seemingly non-religious work needs to be done to sustain this structure?
    • How is authority created? Who creates these authorities, and are they done by the “religious” or “secular”? Is that even an useful distinction to draw here?

Chapter 3 - Majilis as a pilgrimage

  • Main character: Fathal the security guard
    • Karbalaei native, but not particularly religious
    • Goal is to show how “regular” people engage with religion
  • Look to Asad here, what types of self is attempting to be molded by going to this pilgrimage?
  • How do pilgrims signal to each other about the status of their pilgrimage? How does the shrine institutions support this?
  • This chapter might be cut or revised, it’s a little vague right now

Conclusion

  • Husseiniyya rituals draw in the audience and participants through N ways
  • This allows the audience to view themselves in a different way, constructing a different present
  • One underaddressed aspect within this study is the register of tragedy, which is potential for future work

Old

Peacebuilding

  • Reintegration of Iraqi Militias
    • PMF Command Structures
      • PMF command structures are vastly different, from KH’s Hezbollah-like situation to brigade 30
        • Money laundering and ghost soldiers
        • Who is lining their pockets and benefiting from different command structures?
    • Sectarian conflicts
      • PMF cross cuts class, race, and religion
        • Shia Turkmen, Christians, pro-sistani vs pro-iran
      • What kind of nationalism is being created? Alternatively, what kinds of sub-state nationalism (borrowing Toby Dodge) is being created?
    • Similar reintegration histories?
      • Peacebuilding in
        • Balkans
          • Reintegration of Bosnia mujahadeen?
          • “Recyled” militia in Serbia armed groups?
        • Lebanon
          • Hezbollah and similarities there?
        • Nepal
          • Ideaologically driven - were maoist. Does this hold similarities?
        • Afghanistan
          • Taliban
        • Namibia
        • Colombia
          • Paramilitary demobilization, and it’s failures
        • Chechnya
          • Militias as spoilers of the Chechen state, does this occur in Iraq?
        • Ivory Coast
          • “Warrior generation”, political violence similar levels, are there models to be drawn here?
    • Post-conflict peacebuilding within formal state structures
      • The Iraqi state did not totally collapse and fought off an insurgency, is this different than integrating militias in newly formed states?
      • External actors
        • UNAMI
        • US
        • Iran
        • etc
    • Mechanics of peacebuilding
      • Combants to civilains -> Has this happened?
      • Post-conflict state -> Has Iraqi society reached “post-conflict”? What determines post-conflict?
    • “Big” questions
      • Current government framing of Iraq
        • Lack of legitmacy on several key institutions
          • “Supreme” court has no constitutional legitmacy
      • KRG
        • Resolved issues of KRG disputes, how do the peshmerga fit into this equation?
      • What constitutes as “rehabilitation” and “reintegration”?
        • UN has often sought “reintegration” by waiting it out, which has rarely worked. Succesful examples are Nepal and Namibia, which sought greater reintegration via massive state-sponsered jobs programs
          • How does this change in a world of low interest rates? Namibia and Nepal had difficulties borrowing money, does the shift in the global markets affect this?
        • “Big” reintegration - who are the funders of reintegration for previous states? Who funds reintegration for the Iraqi state?
          • Who directs reintegration? Often times funded and directed in DC, but acted upon in other states
        • What do we reintegrate back into? Reintegration implies return to prewar “normalcy” – the same conditions that gestated the conflict.
          • Sierra Leone of 2005 looks like the Sierra Leone of 1991
          • What structural changes are available?
            • What does this look like in the backdrop of Arab Spring? Of the 2019/2020 protests?
    • Unknown quesitons
      • War veterans in post-war situations
        • Refusal to reintegrate?
          • Similarities to societal groups like Turkey’s war vets?
      • External communities
        • How do the communities reintegrating the militia members feel?
        • What about disapora?
      • Generational questions
        • “Reintegration” implies that there is a life to go back to. Are militia members who spent their lives in conflict have this open as an opportunity?

Similar/Previous Work

Peacebuilding and islam in iraq

peacebuilding with hashd al-shaabi and infrastructure?

  • how are they building infrastructure
    • weapons depots, telecommunications, etc
    • osint on their locations, monitor communications
  • the build up of telecommunication infrastructure and how they deliver money? how are payments delivered into communities?

important part of writing a thesis

  • don’t get caught up in the sequences
  • do things you thnink you’re not ready to do
  • how to identify one thing

FINAL Religious rituals, authority, and identity in modern Iraq

  • Modern Iraq is fractured blah blah blah
  • Many modes of belonging
  • How do the rituals reflect that? Do religious rituals in the shrine cities demarkate anything useful? Recongition of multiple poles of power as not independent, but mixed together
  • Islamic law angle?
  • Qi card angle?
  • Shia kurds -> fayli kurds? How do they travel? Do they buy into a shia identity?
  • As the iraqi state becomes more and more shia-centric, does buying into shia identity mean buying into iraqi identity?
  • Ali al wardi stuff
  • To the people who attend these rituals, how do they feel about it?
  • Rituals as a language, and language as a tool of citizenship and identity formation, how language itself is key to identity formationg

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