The commemoration of Muharram
Negotiating community
in Iraqi women in Denmark
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This chapter analyses the commemoration of Muharram, a Shi‘ite rite of mourning, as an arena for creating a moral, religious and social community of Shi‘a Muslim Iraqis in Copenhagen. Drawing from performance theories, the chapter shows how women’s bodily performances during Muharram give birth to a contingent community of suffering and remembering. However, meanings attributed to the ritual may differ, and many women were not familiar with this specific form of commemoration before they came to Denmark. Both in terms of their performance and the social composition of the participants, the rituals are strongly influenced by their performance in Danish society. The religious milieu thus gains its importance because there women can negotiate their sense of belonging in relation to both their socio-cultural background and their everyday lives as part of an ethnic minority in Denmark. The chapter argues that it is necessary to thoroughly examine the sometimes contingent forms of community and belonging constructed among ethnic minorities rather than taking for granted that such communities exist on the basis of people’s shared point of origin.

Iraqi women in Denmark

Ritual performance and belonging in everyday life


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