The Traffic in Iranian Pilgrims: Historicity and Sociality of Saint Visitation across the Middle East
Presented by Professor Emrah Yildiz from Northwestern University
This talk follows the pathways of a ziyarat (saint visitation) route, also known as Hajj-e Fuqara’ (pilgrimage of the poor) from bus stations in Iran through Turkish bazaars in Gaziantep, Turkey to the Sayyida Zainab shrine near Damascus, Syria. Professor Yildiz proposes that this pilgrimage route can be productively understood as a region-making route. He will trace the inter-articulations of saint visitation with contraband commerce circuits. In contrast to those scholars who see in Islamic ritual the pre-determined stage for ethical cultivation and self-making pedagogy, The Traffic in Iranian Pilgrims interprets ritual as a generative dimension of social action and spatial production on a regional scale that exemplifies the historicity and sociality of ritual.
Emrah Yıldız is Crown Junior Chair in Middle East Studies and Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University. Yıldız holds a PhD in Social Anthropology and Middle East Studies from Harvard University. A founding and former co-editor of Jadaliyya’s Turkey Page, Yıldız co-edited (with Anthony Alessandrini and Nazan Üstündag) the collection “Resistance Everywhere:” The Gezi Protests and Dissident Visions of Turkey (2014). His recent academic publications and short-form writings could be found here: https://northwestern.academia.edu/emrahyildiz