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MENA Monday. Debating Daʿwa: Theologies of Mediation in the Egyptian Islamic Revival — Yasmin Moll

When: Monday, March 6, 2017
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM CT

Where: Kresge Hall, The Forum (Kresge 1-515), 1880 Campus Drive , Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Student - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Cost: Free

Contact: Danny Postel  

Group: Middle East and North African Studies

Category: Lectures & Meetings


What makes media “Islamic”? Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork with Islamic television producers in Cairo, this paper looks at the passionate contention within Egypt’s piety movement over the development of new forms of religious media. I suggest that at stake in these mass-mediated debates over daʿwa (Islamic outreach) are conflicting theologies of both religious publicity and everyday life that configure the boundaries of the “religious” and the “secular” differently. This God-talk matters a great deal to Islamic Revivalists who spend more time debunking each other than they do secularists.

Attending to these internal critiques foregrounds the contradictory moral conceptions of human flourishing and divine obligation that animate Egypt’s Islamic Revival. Indeed, focusing on the piety movement’s internal fractures as God-talk allows for an ethnographic engagement with how Muslim adepts critique religious difference—and the difference that religious critique makes—beyond the imperatives of secular power even while troubling both the “secular” and the “religious” as analytical categories.

Yasmin Moll is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of Michigan and a member of the Michigan Society of Fellows. Her areas of specialization are the anthropologies of media, religion and the Middle East. She is currently completing a book titled The Revolution Within: Critique and the Islamic Revival, which is based on over two years of fieldwork in Cairo exploring Islamic television channels as prominent sites of cultural and political contestations within the Egyptian Islamic Revival.

The book ethnographically charts how such contestations play out through the production strategies and audience imaginations of one channel’s Islamic media-makers and television preachers. The novel forms of religious media they create literally materialize conflicting moral visions for the “New Egypt” in ways that trouble the utility of a secular-religious binary for understanding the country’s turbulent trajectory since the 2011 revolution. 

Her second project, The People’s Propaganda, examines the intersections of technology, violence and political mobilization in (counter)revolutionary Egypt.

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