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Material Culture and the Construction of Subjects

Marie-Pierre Julien and Céline Rosselin explore the issues at stake in the close physical relationship that people have with objects, proposing that this seemingly quotidian and frequently non-verbal process is a means of constructing human beings as subjects. What is at stake in material culture is not only the production of physical environments by actors but the effects of these environments in shaping people as specific kinds of social entities.

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Enacting “Electronic Qur’ans”: Tradition Without a Precedent

Natalia Suit describes instances in Egypt in which the Qur’ān is enacted through the daily routines of worship and piety known as the etiquette of the muṣḥaf. These practices, she argues, are inseparably entangled with technology. A book made of paper is not the same as the Qur’ānic text on the screen of a phone. A text visible on the page does not necessarily appear in the same way as its digitized version under a plastic cover. When the medium of the message changes, the etiquette of the muṣḥaf changes as well, and practices are redefined to accommodate this new and unprecedented materiality of the text.

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Sensing Eid al Kabir’s Tactile, Viscous Stickiness: Affect, Embodiment and Material Religion

Rebecca Moody reads Eid al Kabir in Fes, Morocco, through the lens of affect theory. The sights, sounds and smells of Eid yield the circulation of “sticky” affect that, as it touches each participant and observer, in turn renders them sticky and therein “(re)surfaces” their material bodies. Moody argues that affect theory offers a unique approach to the study of material religion, specifically Islam, by combining the materiality of the human body with the “textures” of affect that circulate around Islam in its different, quotidian expressions.

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New Images for New Publics: Oral-Visual Narratives of the Telangana

Chandan Bose analyses an oral-visual tradition of South India to argue that the efficacy of such storytelling is located not just in linguistic practice but in a performative ‘doing’. That it is through acts of performance and participation that storytellers, audience and practice forge relationships with each other, invent new traditions, and confront the tensions of contemporary conditions of production and reception.

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