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Ritual performance and belonging in everyday life

Iraqi women in Denmark is an ethnographic study of ritual performance and place-making among Shi‘a Muslim Iraqi women in Copenhagen. The book explores how Iraqi women construct a sense of belonging to Danish society through ritual performances, and it investigates how this process is interrelated with their experiences of inclusion and exclusion in Denmark. The findings of the book refute the all too simplistic assumptions of general debates on Islam and immigration in Europe that tend to frame religious practice as an obstacle to integration in the host society. In sharp contrast to the fact that Iraqi women’s religious activities in many ways contribute to categorizing them as outsiders to Danish society, their participation in religious events also localizes them in Copenhagen. Drawing on anthropological theories of ritual, relatedness and place-making, the analysis underscores the necessity of investigating migrants’ notions of belonging not just as a phenomenon of identity, but also with regard to the social relations and practices through which belonging is constructed and negotiated in everyday life.The Iraqi women’s religious engagement is related to their social positions in Danish society, and the study particularly highlights how social class relations intersect with issues of gender and ethnicity in the Danish welfare state, linking women’s religious practices to questions of social mobility. The book contextualizes this analysis by describing women’s previous lives in Iraq and their current experiences with return visits to a post-war society.

Negotiating community
Marianne Holm Pedersen

enjoyed the tea and food that Umm Ali and a couple of other women were handing out. This commemoration of Muharram is one example of the many calendrical rites that Iraqi Shi‘a Muslims perform in Copenhagen. In this chapter I will direct my attention towards the semi-public forums in which women assemble. Such women’s assemblies are not formally organised, but depend on the organisational skills and efforts of individual actors such as Umm Ali. The activities in women’s assemblies are unknown either to the general public or to their male counterparts, even though the

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Abstract only
Challenges of belonging
Marianne Holm Pedersen

’ culture and notions of ‘Danishness’. Despite the fact that there are many lines of differentiation within Danish society, Islam and Muslims have come to epitomise cultural difference (cf. Gullestad 2002a: 59; 2002b; Stolcke 1995). Hence, the Iraqi women were constructing belonging to a place in which others did not expect them to belong. The main purpose of this book is to explore the construction of belonging in ritual performance and everyday life. More specifically, I investigate how Iraqi Shi‘a Muslim women in Copenhagen construct a sense of belonging to the place

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Notions of belonging revised
Marianne Holm Pedersen

collective identities such as those of Iraqi refugees or Shi‘a Muslims. They participated for many different reasons, but they actively engaged in ‘Iraqi activities’ and they were very conscious about the importance of transmitting such practices to their children. In this way, the ritual performances provide a good example of (transnational) ways of belonging. However, the analysis has also shown that belonging is not just a matter of identity but is grounded in the social relations that migrants construct and maintain. It is not only constructed and negotiated in

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Abstract only
Ritual performance and place-making in everyday life
Marianne Holm Pedersen

. Interspersed between these major events were occasions in the personal lives of my informants,6 and a number of calendrical Shi‘a rites were also carried out. For Shi‘ites, the Islamic year is constituted by a series of events that are linked not only to the two main Islamic festivals that all Muslims celebrate (‘Id al-fitr and ‘Id al-adha), but also to the births and deaths of the closest members of the Prophet’s family and the Twelve Imams, who are believed to be the successors of the Prophet. Not every observant Shi‘a Muslim chooses to commemorate these events, but among

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Processes of settlement in Denmark
Marianne Holm Pedersen

network was confined to Iraqi Shi‘a Muslim circles. In some ways, this may not seem surprising. A large number of migration studies have shown how migrants become part of ethnic communities in the migration destination (e.g. Al-Rasheed 1998; Shaw 1988; Werbner 1990). With a focus on ethnicity one might therefore suggest that women’s networks made up a form of continuity rooted in their ethno-religious backgrounds. However, by also exploring issues of social class and gender as they are played out in women’s lives and Danish society respectively, it becomes apparent that

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Abstract only
Ritual performance and belonging
Marianne Holm Pedersen

bodily experiences that can be relived repeatedly. Finally, the ritual events provide social interaction and opportunities to discuss the women’s current situation and create a sense of relatedness among the participants. In this way, women’s identifications as Iraqi Shi‘a Muslims come to play together with many other dimensions of their identities. Social recognition thus seems to be just one dimension of their interaction in the religious milieu. The findings of the book raise further questions regarding rituals and belonging. If, broadly speaking, rituals are

in Iraqi women in Denmark
Volker M. Heins

world. Like some of his comrades, Malcolm travelled extensively in the Middle East and Africa, and even joined the pilgrimage to Mecca, not only to garner sympathy for an imagined common cause, but also to deepen his particular transnational Shi’a Muslim identity. As Manning Marable writes in his critical biography, many black Americans, after converting to Islam, did not care at all about

in Recognition and Global Politics
Simon Mabon

groups have gained prominence through offering social care and physical protection to those in urban environments who have been excluded or marginalised by state structures. In Lebanon, Shi’a Muslims have long been marginalised, while poverty, disenfranchisement and marginalisation has been a prominent part of daily life dating back to the nineteenth century.88 A  century later, similar conditions remained. By 1974, Shi’a Muslims comprised somewhere in the region of 30% of the Lebanese population but received less than 1% of the state budget.89 The combination of these

in Houses built on sand
Raymond Hinnebusch

Persian core flanked by Azerbaijanis, Kurds, Turkomans, Arabs and Baluchis. Religious pluralism is even more striking: Sunni Muslims are the majority community in the Arab world, but not in particular states (Lebanon, Iraq) while Shi’a Muslims, the majority in Iran, spill across the Arab region where they are pivotal minorities or deprived majorities in Bahrain, Kuwait, Iraq, and Lebanon. Several Shi’a offshoots, notably the Druze, Ismailis and Alawis are historically important in Syria and Lebanon, while the Zaydis dominate Yemen. Offshoots of the purist Kharijites

in The international politics of the Middle East