Category Archives: Events

Fellowships: Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

Short-term Fellowships of

“The Cluster of Excellence – Asia and Europe in a Global Context”,

Transcultural Image Database Project “Satellite of Networks”

The Circulation of Popular Images and Media in Muslim Religious Spheres

 

“In the summer of 2010, Tasveerghar invited proposals for short term fellowships from scholars, researchers and practitioners of popular arts and culture for multi-disciplinary and multi-media projects of research and documentation on the topic of popular visual cultures and practices in and around Muslim shrines and public spaces, with an emphasis on the transcultural flows as emerging in the globalised contemporary popular arts and media.

Muslim public spheres in India/South Asia exhibit a wide array of image practices such as calendar and poster art, devotional framed pictures, portrait photography with artificial backdrops, illustrated covers of religious chapbooks and magazines, besides innovative wall murals and printed notices, all of them incorporating popular icons of Mecca, Medina, local Sufi shrines, saints, Shia symbols, and Arabic calligraphy. Besides these, one also finds religious narratives in popular recorded media such as audiocassettes, video CDs/DVDs, and now the cell-phone software. Much of this popular visuality and ephemera circulate around institutions such as Sufi shrines or mosques in south Asia, although these may not be limited to only one shrine area or a city. One may also find inter regional connections between shrines of different towns and villages through the passage of these media to wider areas.

Although much of these mass duplicated images and media may have their origins in the traditional religious performative practices of the pre-modern era, the impact of new technology and media, especially derived from outside their local spaces, has altered the way religious devotion is practiced today. One could highlight this with an example about the mobility and transformation of Muslim shrines, saint portraits and relics through images and media on the Indian subcontinent (although by no means do we wish to limit the regional focus to India but explore transnational and transcultural flows!). Usually a Sufi shrine holds the original grave or relic of a specific saint that cannot be replicated anywhere else (unlike a Hindu deity whose idol or replica shrine can be recreated in other locations too). Thus the visit to a particular Sufi shrine has its unique value for a pilgrim for its originality. But the mass duplicated images of the same can easily be made and have been in circulation for a long time, making a shrine or relic mobile beyond its original location. There are evidences of hand drawn illustrations of Sufi shrines and saint portraits being made available before the onset of print in India. The printing industry, especially of colour posters and other types of images made the mass produced images of Sufi shrines even more accessible and popular. The photography has added newer dimension to this visual culture where an odd photo of a saint is used again and again to make drawings and even idols, such as in the case Sai Baba of Shirdi.

Through this multi-disciplinary project we wish to go a few steps further from the nexus of photography, painting, and printed posters, to study the newer practices of the use of “original” images for the creation of new mediated material such as collage posters, videos, animation and even Internet-based presentations that seek newer generation of devotees and their popular piety. A typical example of this would be the production of popular devotional videos about Sufi shrines that are basically music videos with a performer/Qawwal singing a new song seeking the saint’s blessing, dramatically videographed in a studio or staged settings, interspersed with the vérité shots of the actual shrine – the two of which can sometimes be very different in style and quality. There can be several such examples from the contemporary popular culture of Muslims in India. Thus, we invite you to be a part of a larger project by contributing with your specific research about a shrine, institution or public space that is witnessing the production of popular images and media and getting altered through transcultural impact.”

More infos here: http://www.tasveerghar.net

Workshop: Ritual and Nationalism in Sindh

International workshop

Ritual and Nationalism in Sindh

26 May 2011, Heidelberg University

Internationales Wissenschaftsforum Heidelberg, Hauptstraße 242

Convened by Jürgen Schaflechner with SFB 619 “Ritual Dynamik

 

Thursday 26 May 2011

9.00 – 10.00: Oscar Verkaaig, University of Amsterdam, Authenticating ethnic identity: pilgrimage and sacrifice in post-colonial Sindhi politics

10.00-11.00: Rémy Delage, Centre de Sciences Humaines, New Delhi, Muharram processions and ritual geography in central Sindh

11.15-12.15: Omar Kasmani, Frei Unviersity, Berlin, Riting out of line: amongst fakirs on the borderlands

13.30-14.30: Hasan Ali, SOAS, London,  The ritual and iconography of the Sabzwari Muharram ceremonies in Sehwan Sharif

14.30-15.30: Michel Boivin, CEIAS/EHESS, Paris, Articulating Sindhi culture and Sufi belonging through rituals

16.00-16.45: Jürgen Schaflechner, SAI, Heidelberg, Screening of the documentary film Agney Tirth Hinglaj. A pilgrimage in Baluchistan

A photo exhibition by Omar Kasmani, Paris, CEIAS-EHESS

The red between black and white

Special photo exhibition, EHESS, main hall

15 September-15 October 2010

MIFS, All rights reserved

Omar Kasmani, a PhD student in Social Anthropology at Freie Universität (Berlin), is also an artist and photographer. We are very thankful to him that he accepted to contribute while featuring a photo exhibition: “The reMIFS, All rights reservedd between black and white” (see posters).

He chose images capturing the various aspects of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh, including people (faqîrs, ascetics, women and eunuchs), events (`urs, muharram), as well as ritual practices (dhammâl, charagi, ghusl) and ceremonies (nawchandi, rajabi). Around 30 photographs, mixing coloured images with black and white photos, were displayed in the main hall of the EHESS during the conference and for several weeks afterwards.

The artist’s statement is:

“My work questions the ‘black and white’ images of the ‘practising’ Muslim. Devoid of nuances, it is often imagined in contrasting tropes of uncritical submission to, or outright rejection of, religious tradition. Practices at the shrine of the ‘red’ saint in southern Pakistan highlight an inventive vocabulary of negotiation between local devotion and translocal agency giving rise to new forms of religiosity. Far from constructions of a fixed, homogenous and universal Islam, referred to invariably in the singular, with the capital I, my encounters in Sehwan sharif reveal the dynamic, heterogenous and plural capacities of ‘lived islams’.”

Some of the photos displayed at the exhibition can be consulted on the author’s website.

 

International conference, 23-24 September 2010, CEIAS-EHESS

International conference

Shrines, Pilgrimages and Wanderers in Muslim South Asia

Venue: CEIAS, EHESS, 54 Boulevard Raspail, 75006, Paris

Convenors: Michel Boivin & Rémy Delage

a

Thursday, 23 September 2010

9h-9h30: Welcoming of the participants

9h30-10h: Welcome address by Blandine Ripert, Director of CEIAS, EHESS-CNRS, and introduction by Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS-MIFS) and Rémy Delage (CNRS-CEIAS-CSH-MIFS)

Session 1: Figures of wandering ascetics through history

During the first session, three contributors propose to analyze how the qalandari figure has been formed over time, using a large corpus of vernacular written sources mainly in Persian language, and how this movement relates to other mystical branches of South Asian Islam.

Chair: Catherine Servan Schreiber (CNRS-CEIAS)

10h-10h20: Alexandre Papas (CNRS-CETOBA), Vagrancy and pilgrimage according to the Sufi Qalandari path

10h20-10h40: Michel Boivin (CNRS-CEIAS-MIFS), Qalandar-s and Qalandarî-s: Antinomianism as a changing concept in the Indus Valley

10h40-11h: Discussion and debate

11h-11h30: Coffee break

11h30-11h50: Mojan Membrado (INALCO), Is there a connection between the Qalandars and the Ahl-e Haqq order?

11h50-12h30: Discussion and debate

Session 2: The saints’ charisma and conflicting representations of sainthood

The four papers reflect the multiple meanings of rituals that are performed in and around Sufi shrines, and which ultimately reflect the continuing success of these pilgrimages. The tension between the expression of emotions and the involvement of institutions in mediating that expression is measured in different ways.

Chair: Françoise ‘Nalini’ Delvoye (EPHE)

14h-14h20: Delphine Ortis (EHESS-MIFS), How discourses construct figures of ‘normalised holiness’

14h20-14h40: Omar Kasmani (Free University of Berlin-MIFS), Rearranging Gender: The question of spiritual authority amongst two women intercessors of Sehwan Sharif

14h40-15h: Discussion and debate

15h-15h30: Tea break

15h30-15h50: Mikko Viitamäki (University of Helsinki & Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes (EPHE), Paris), Entertaining and ecstatic. Poetics and emotions in musical gatherings of a Sufi shrine

15h50-16h10: Ute Falasch (Humboldt University, Berlin), Managing a shrine inhabited by a living saint- the dargâh of “Zinda” Shâh Madâr

16h10-16h30: Discussion and debate

18h: Cocktail and exhibition

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Friday, 24 September 2010

Session 3: Pilgrimages, the city and the making of ritual spaces

The question is here about how localities, towns or cities have been structured over time by the ritual activity generated by pilgrimages but also by various actors or social groups competing for exerting social power and religious authority locally.

Chair: Thierry Zarcone (CNRS-GSRL)

9h30-9h50: Rémy Delage (CNRS-CSH-MIFS), A sociological reading of ritual processions: the case study of Sehwan Sharif in Central Sindh (Pakistan)

9h50-10h10: Yves Ubelmann (DAFA-MIFS), The shrine of La`l Shahbâz Qalandar and its urban surrounding: politics, urbanism and religion

10h10-10h30: Discussion and debate

10h30-11h: Coffee break

11h-11h20: Muhammad Mubeen (CEIAS-EHESS), The shrine and the Chishtis of Pakpattan (Pakistan): A historical analysis

11h20-12h: Jürgen Schaflechner (SAI, Heidelberg University), Moving through meaning: The pilgrimage of Hing Laj Devi in Pakistan, followed by the screening of a 17mn documentary film “Agneyatirtha Hinglaj”

12h-12h30: Discussion and debate

Session 4: Pilgrimage politics and Sufi shrines policies

Pilgrimages can be envisaged as “places” of politics in that they articulate on the one hand social and ritual activity, and on the other, competing discourses, secular and religious, tinged with different ideologies, and matrix of issues of power and domination.

Chair: Alka Patel (University of California, Irvine)

14h-14h20: Kashif Sherwani (CEIAS-EHESS), Maududi on Shrines and Sufism or the building of a new Islamic orthodoxy

14h20-14h40: Alix Philippon (University of Provence), An ambiguous and contentious politicization of Sufi shrines and pilgrimages in Pakistan

14h40-15h: Discussion and debate

15h-15h30: Tea break

15h30-15h50: Mauro Valdinoci (University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Italy), Dead saints or living souls? Contested pilgrimages to Sufi shrines in Hyderabad (India)

15h50-16h10: Uzma Rehman (University of Copenhaguen), Spiritual power and ‘Threshold’ identities: the mazars of Saiyid Pir Waris Shah and Shah Abdul Latif Bhitai

16h10-16h30: Discussion and debate

Keynote address

16h30-17h: Pnina Werbner (Keele University, UK), Transnationalism and regional cults: the dialectics of Sufism in the plurivocal Muslim world


Workshop on Sehwan, 27 January 2009, CEIAS-EHESS

Plurality of sources and interdisciplinary approach:

A case study of Sehwan Sharif in Sindh

Maison de l’Asie, Grand Salon (1st floor), 22 avenue du Président Wilson, 75016 Paris

 

As part of activity of the research team “History and Sufism in the Indus Valley” (CEIAS), led by Michel Boivin, a workshop will be held on 27 January 2009 at the EHESS in Paris. Several members of this team will focus on how to integrate the plurality of sources in comparison with the interdisciplinary approach of a Sufi pilgrimage, that of Sehwan Sharif located in the region of Sindh in Southern Pakistan. Beginning on the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh (1989-2002), different sets of research materials will be presented by the speakers: epigraphical sources, colonial archives, cartographic representations, vernacular sources, etc. If the primary objective of this workshop is to make an inventory of sources and materials collected, and eventually to compose a typology by disciplines, it also aims at multiplying angles of approach to a specific site, between local history and regional history. At the end of the day, a brief account of the field mission in October 2008 will be presented and commented, as well as various parallel projects around issues of data management and sharing (archiving and cataloging, GIS, website).

Programme

9h30: Opening remarks by Michel Boivin, CNRS

Morning session

Chair: Véronique Bouiller (CNRS)

10h-10h30: Monique Kervran (CNRS), The archaeology of Sindh and Sehwan Sharif: the work of the French Archaeological Mission in Sindh

10h30-11h: Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum), Sehwan Sharif through the study of ceramics: 2nd-8th until 11th-17th centuries

Coffee break

11h15-11h45: Claude Markovits (CNRS), Sindh through colonial archives

11h45-12h15: Reza Dehghan (University of Aix-Marseille), Sindh and commercial trade between India and Baghdad

Afternoon session

Archives at the Mukhtyarkar office in Sehwan

Chair: Christophe Z. Guilmoto (IRD)

14h-14h30: Johanna Blayac (EPHE), Epigraphy and architecture in Sehwan and southern Sindh

14h30-15h00: Rémy Delage (CNRS), Sehwan Sharif and Sindh represented cartographically

Tea break

15h-15h50: Michel Boivin (CNRS), La’l Shahbâz Qalandar through vernacular sources; Annabelle Collinet (Louvre Museum): Commentary on the Qalandar’s begging bowl (kishtî)

15h50-16h20: Frédérique Pagani (Paris X-Nanterre), Studying the Sindhis in India

16h20-17h: Michel Boivin (CNRS) and Rémy Delage (CNRS), Brief account of the field mission in 2008, Parallel projects and Mission in Sehwan Sharif 2009

 

Book launch in Karachi, AFK, 15 October 2008

 

On the occasion of the visit of MIFS members to Pakistan, the French Alliance of Karachi (AFK) hosted an evening with Michel Boivin who presented his new edited book:

Michel Boivin (ed) Sindh though History and Representations. French Contributions to Sindhi Studies. Karachi, OUP, 2008.

The AFK, the MIFS and OUP co-organised on that occasion the second seminar conference on the cultural and historical legacy of Sindh and Pakistan:

Dr Michel Boivin, CNRS (Paris)
Introduction to the book “Sindh Through History and Representations”

Dr Rémy Delage, CNRS (Paris)
Sehwan and Sindh through the maps

Dr Michel Boivin, CNRS (Paris)
Managing the sources for writing Lal’ Shahbâz Qalandar’s biography

Sohail Bawani, Karachi University
Ethnographic Reflections on the performance of the dhammâl at the shrine of La’l Shahbâz
Qalandar

Ameena Sayyid at the gathering

Special Guests

Ameena Sayyid, Managing Director of OUP

Dr. Fateh M. Burfat, Head of Department of Sociology, University of Karachi