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The Embers of Allah: cosmologies, knowledge, and relations in the mountains of central Bosnia

HENIG, DAVID (2011) The Embers of Allah: cosmologies, knowledge, and relations in the mountains of central Bosnia. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis is a study of living Islam and Muslims’ lifeworlds in the margins of the postsocialist world, in the mountains of central Bosnia. Its main scope is an analysis of the scales of relatedness and the domains of knowledge traditions that assemble Muslims’ lifeworlds as tangible, coherent and meaningful social forms. In doing so, the thesis draws inspiration from the Barthian anthropology of knowledge to shed light on ‘what a person employs to interpret and act on the world’. A knowledge tradition, here understood as a local cosmology, is a product of multiple persons and relations that create the context in which knowledge and bodies of knowledge are produced and sustained. Therefore, I argue that it is a knowledge tradition that informs a ‘meaningful agency’ in the flow of everyday sociality and that continues to be Islam in the Bosnian mountains. In particular, I suggest that Muslim life in the mountains is lived along four complementary meaningful contexts, that is relatedness, spatiality, temporality and ritual.
Relatedness embraces multifaceted processes of ‘living together’ that (re)fabricate, relate and extend Muslim persons through sharing of substances, memories, identity and divinity (chapters 3 and 4). The flow of everyday sociality between persons who ‘live in proximity’ is tapestried from day-to-day forms of exchange such as hospitality, intimacy and mutuality between neighbours, and enacted within two overlapping spheres, that is immediate (komšiluk) and extended neighbourhood (mahala) (chapters 5 and 6). The lifeworlds of Muslims as well as the flow of the everyday in the mountains are orchestrated and punctuated by particular rhythms embracing multiple forms of time reckoning and calendars, and orchestrating various agricultural and religious activities and practices (chapter 7). Ritual is a mode of appropriation of personal or communal good luck, fortune, blessing and well-being (chapters 6, 7 and 8), and cuts across the spheres of intimacy and proximity and embraces Muslims’ lifeworlds, well-being of the house, the land and the persons with the sacred landscape and divinity.
Throughout the thesis I argue that our research in the post-Yugoslav regions needs to take into account local knowledge traditions as a serious matter of concern, and situate the war atrocities or postsocialist transformations within the larger analytical scales entwining cultural continuities and historicities with social, political and economic breakdowns. In doing so, I show that the ways Bosnian Muslims value and conceive of being a Muslim are primarily focused on cultural creativity, knowledge, morality and domains that inform, shape and (re)create their lifeworlds and cosmologies, and through which Bosnian Muslims exchange, communicate, validate and understand their religious experiences and imagination in the context of turbulent social, economic and political transformations.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Bosnia-Herzegovina, Islam, Post-socialism, Knowledge, Ritual, Relatedness
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Anthropology, Department of
Thesis Date:2011
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:04 Jul 2011 14:49

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