Vie scientifique | Journées d'études

	Sharing and distinction. Paradoxical processes in the sanctuaries of South Asia

Sharing and distinction. Paradoxical processes in the sanctuaries of South Asia

Journée d'études

7 juin 2017 | 10h - 17h

EHESS – salle 11 – 105 boulevard Raspail – 75006 - Paris



10:00 Welcome

10:15 Delphine Ortis (INALCO)


10: 30 | Michel Boivin, CNRS-CEIAS


An ethnographical overview of some shared shrines (Sehwan Sharif & Udero Lal)

Since about ten years, a number of research projects have been implemented on the issue of shared sacred shrines in South Asia at the CEIAS. This paper intends to summarize the main results of different fieldworks, especially those related to two sites located in the province of Sindh, in Pakistan. The first project started in 2008 and it was centred on the holy town of Sehwan Sharif. The second project recently started in 2016, which is still going on, is devoted to the shrine of Udero Lal, which is shared by Muslims and Hindus. Beyond providing ethnographical data, the paper wishes to discuss the dominant theories on the topic, such as the theory of dargah culture as distinct religious culture Barla Bellamy has developed (Bellamy 2011).

11:00 |  Jürgen Schaflechner, University of Heidelberg


Methodological Concerns: A Solidification of Tradition.

How is it possible to organize a field of voices in which everyone lays claim to speak “the truth” at religious sites? On the basis of empirical material gathered at the shrine of Hinglaj Devi I will show how the tradition’s relatively recent dislocation kindled a process in which many actors involved with the shrine started to reshape the various rituals and narratives at the site. In the course of this, certain practices at Hinglaj became labelled as the “real,” “true” or “proper” ways to engage with the Goddess, whereas others were termed as “fake” or “notional.” Building on theories of the so called Ontological Turn as well as Post-foundationalism, I will call these intricate dynamics of in- and exclusion “a solidification of tradition.”


11:30 Coffee Break

12:00 | Omar Kasmani, Freie Universitaet (Berlin)


Holy Scenes. Unholy Intimacies. Visualising the State in Sehwan Sharif

In this paper, I discuss my involvement in the photographic culture at the shrine of Sehwan and point out the ways in which pilgrims’ pictures, much like their dreams, are intervened by desirous projections of the state. In other words, I point to a mediatisationof the saint of Sehwan to argue that the visual intimacies in the shared space of the photograph implicate wider social and co-constitutive processes of the state even when such processes appear ‘paradoxical’ (Philippon, 2016).

12:30 | Alexandra de Mersan, INALCO


Shared spaces in Burma


13:00 LUNCH Break (EHESS restaurant for the participants)

14:30 | Saba Samo, CEIAS-EHESS


Re-identification of lower castes communities as Dalits: Pro and Anti-Dalit Assertions in Sindh

This study is an attempt to understand the current wave of construction of new political and social identity of untouchable caste community members in Sindh. In my presentation, I will discuss my fieldwork mainly focusing on the question that since when Dalit term was started and gained popularity and why it is under criticism in recent years.  This study is an attempt to understand views and perspectives of two social groups: Pro Dalit and Anti Dalit groups and their concern in the study. This study is mainly qualitative composed of my field work carried out in the months of February and March. This subject requires further study and field work. In my presentation I will try to shed light on the subject and examine neglected or rarely acknowledged aspects.

15:00 |  Kamran Kumbher, CEIAS-EHESS


Tradition, social organization and tolerance: Case study of Baba Ramdevji in Tando Allahyar, Sindh.

This study is an attempt to find answer of two basic questions of research that what is Baba Ramdevji (BR) tradition? And how it is carried and practiced among his followers in Sindh? In my presentation, I will discuss my field work and its findings. It is an ethnographic account in which a survey of (BR) was conducted in important cities of Sindh. This study is mainly focused on temple of (BR) in Tando Allahyar; a grandest sight of his followers. In my presentation I will discuss how the organizational structure is constructed referring specifically trying to understand role of “Guru” (Spiritual legacy carrier) in this tradition and those members of different castes, the varying cases of castes and complexity study, which requires further fieldwork. The paper will closely examine the topic and shed new light on neglected and rarely acknowledged information and aspects of the issue.


15:30 Coffee Break

16:00 | Abdul Qadar, CEIAS-EHESS


Self of a Native Anthropologist: Reflecting upon the Self-constructed Representations as Punjabi Native Anthropologist

This presentation is an effort to share my recent fieldwork experiences as a native anthropologist at my village in Punjab, where I was born, raised and remained connected in a somewhat permanent relationship. The study aims to problematize the self of a native anthropologist against the backdrop of historically embeddedness of the locale in general and my village in particular, as a case in point. I propose that ‘field’ must be viewed by an anthropologist as an independent source of knowledge, which has its own distinct character independent of the researcher. The word field as it refers to a Punjabi village in this paper is recommended to be seen as it is influenced by positions of the people. This paper originates from my reflections on the possibility of multiplicity of meanings of the key terms like ‘native’, ‘field’ and self either as of anthropologist or of the ‘subject’.

16:30 | Rob Rozehnal, Lehigh University (USA)


A Photo of a Deceased Sufi Master: Accounting for the Miraculous in the Ethnography of Sufism

During fieldwork research in Pakistan, I photographed an elderly man at a Sufi shrine.  When this picture circulated among disciples of the Chishti Sabiri Sufi order, I was told that this stranger was in fact the deceased spiritual master, Shaykh Wahid Bakhsh Rabbani (d. 1995).  With this miracle story as a backdrop, this lecture spotlights the complexity and ambiguity of religious experience—and offers an alternative model to account for the polyphonic and multivalent nature of Sufi conceptions of time, place, and agency. 


17:00 Thanks


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