|When:||Wednesday, April 18, 2012|
12:00 PM - 1:00 PM
|Where:||620 Library Place, conference room
Evanston, IL 60201 map it
|Audience:||- Faculty/Staff - Student - Public|
(847) 491-7323 |
|Group:||Program of African Studies|
|Category:||Lectures & Meetings|
PAS Affiliates lunch lecture series
Wednesday, April 11th, 12pm, lunch served!
An Innocent Amusement: Tambura, Sufism and the Public Spiritual Sphere in 20th century Aden
Scott Reese, History, Northern Arizona University
The early 1920s was by any account a bad time to be an adherent of a spirit possession cult in the British Settlement of Aden. Zar and Tambura were fixtures of public spiritual space from the earliest days of the British occupation if not before. By the 1920s, however, elements of Aden’s more ‘respectable’ Muslim population, spurred on by advocates of scriptural religious reform, found both these groups to be at best a public nuisance and at worst serious moral dangers. As a result, they spared no effort to see them banned from the community.
Zar, with the weight of local elites against it, was quickly banned and its practice forced out of the Settlement. A similar attempt was made by reformers to ban Tambura, a Sudanese cousin of Zar. But its followers fared much better. While forced to accept certain restrictions on when and where they could perform, the Tambura “houses” were allowed to continue their rituals. Their survival was due, in large measure, to the ability of the cult’s adherents--drawn from an ethnically diverse group of “serviles” known as the Jabarti—to create a significant role for themselves within the local “spiritual economy” through a close association with various local saints’ tombs and their annual festivals or ziyarat. Part of a much larger project on the Muslim community and imperial rule, this presentation is a preliminary examination of the place of Tambura in the religious public sphere in Aden and the ways in which its socially disadvantaged practitioners defended their traditions in the face of nascent scripturalist reform during the 1920s.
Scott Reese is associate professor of history at Northern Arizona University. His research focuses on Islamic Africa, where he seeks to break down many of the regional and geographic categories currently in use across the academy. He also studies comparative Sufism, modern Muslim discourses of reform, and the construction of world systems both in fact and imagination since 1500.