Local Expressions, Global Arenas: Ritual and Culture in the Arba’een Pilgrimage in Iraq

Kellogg Institute Graduate Research Grants
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This project will investigate the nature of religious pluralism in a pilgrimage in the globalized era through the Shia Muslim pilgrimage of Arba’een in Iraq. I will conduct a three-month ethnography in Islamabad (Pakistan) on Shia practices and interview prospective Shia pilgrims to Iraq. I seek to understand how Pakistani Shia Muslims engage in pluralistic religious practice both at the pilgrimage site and back home. More than 600 million people make religiously motivated journeys annually, benefitting from global institutions that have promoted human mobility, such as tourism. Pilgrims spend money, utilize networks and leverage resources to perform the pilgrimage ritual in a sacred site that is not a part of their everyday life. This project looks at the connection between religious practice and increased human mobility brought on by human development of the past three decades.

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