The journal of Western Folklore welcomes essay proposals for a special issue on “Vernacular Islam(s),” guest-edited by Dr. Afsane Rezaei and Dr. Ehsan Estiri. Submissions are due by September 30, 2022.
The conceptual framework of the issue relies on Leonard Primiano’s notion of “vernacular religion,” defined as “religion as it is lived: as human beings encounter, understand, interpret, and practice it” (1995: 44). This approach to the study of religion, while widespread in folkloristic, anthropology, and religious studies, has so far been primarily utilized in the study of Christian, Indigenous, or New age vernacular beliefs and practices (Primiano, Bowman & Valk, Howard, Del Giudice, Sciorra, Bowman, Harvey, Magliocco). On the other hand, anthropological studies of Islam that rely on a similar framework (Afzal, Schielke, Debevec, Marranci) tend to be scattered under various theoretical and disciplinary labels. Further, the term “vernacular Islam,” when employed in anthropology or Islamic studies, often invokes the very dichotomy and hierarchy of institutional versus folk that Primiano’s notion had intended to avoid. This is while, as Bowman and Valk (2014) have further expounded, vernacular religion “shapes everyday culture and disrupts the traditional boundaries between ‘official’ and ‘folk.’”
The special issue aims to fill this gap by bringing together a body of scholarship that apply the framework of vernacular religion to Muslim discourses, beliefs, and practices, and form a critical understanding of the multiple manifestations of vernacular Islam in everyday life.
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