Bruce Grant, associate professor of anthropology, New York University. Sponsors: CREES, CMENAS.
Through a series of interviews and archival readings, this talk follows the social life of a religious shrine in rural Azerbaijan over the twentieth century. Founded to honor a regionally famous Muslim holy man from Arabia, this small one-story mausoleum and the community of faithful that serve it have passed from ignominy to heroism and back to ignominy again across a variety of changing political economies. By exploring practices and beliefs around the site and others like it, Grant will explore how accounts of mystical mobilities, miraculous rebel leaders, and the “near-death” experience of religion under Soviet power can shed light on competing logics of sovereignty in this long-contested world area.