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Westermarck and Muslim Saint Worship in North Africa: Thoughts Based on Recent Fieldwork

Dr Tsuyoshi Saito, Kobe University, Japan

Wednesday 25 March at 5.30 pm

This seminar takes up a particularly significant phenomenon in the social anthropology of Islam: maraboutism in North Africa, and looks at it from both the historical and contemporary point of view.  Edward Westermarck, one of the greatest anthropologists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, was a pioneer in this regard. He was known not only for his theoretical contributions to social anthropology, for which he was awarded the RAI’s Huxley Medal, but also for his unrivaled Moroccan ethnographies, including Ritual and Belief in Morocco, Wit and Wisdom in Morocco, and Marriage Ceremonies in Morocco. Although such a pioneer into popular Islam, I would argue that his achievements and insights into “maraboutism” have been only partially taken into account by later anthropologists carrying out research in this field. One of the aims of this presentation is to revisit Westermarck’s achievements in order to extract theoretical possibilities relevant to us today from his rich ethnographies.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to http://saito.eventbrite.co.uk