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Research in Progress: Nada Al-Hudaid

January 25 2019 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Friday 25 January 2019, 4.00-6.00pm

The materiality of dreams and divine mediation among Shi’a artists in Kuwait

Nada Al-Hudaid, University of Manchester

Free, but booking advised: https://nadaal-hudaid.eventbrite.co.uk 

Dream experiences among various communities are translated into reality in different ways; stories, sermons, specific actions and art (Degarrod 2017; Edgar 2016; Mittermaier 2011; Galinier et al. 2010; Price-Williams and Gaines 1994; Tedlock 1991). In this seminar, I will explore the materiality between religious art and dream experiences among Shi’a artists in Kuwait. To understand Shia’s attitude towards dreams, it is important to note that dreams are important in Islam generally and their interpretations are a fundamental feature of Islamic theology. There are some good literature that have solely focused on this topic (Gonzalez-Vazquez 2014; Kreinath 2014; Rozehnal 2014; Snehi 2014; Mittermaier 2011; Balzani 2010; Edgar 2006, 2007, 2008, 2011). Yet the focus on Shi’a dreams is still very little. I will discuss few case studies that are based on the fieldwork I conducted in 2015 among pious women in Kuwait who use paintings as means of communicating ideas that matter to them. More importantly, they use such work as ways to serve God and Ahl Al-Bayt (family members of Prophet Mohammed) which results in specific experiences that are seen as rewards. Art becomes a mediation of divine communication which transforms the artist in specific ways. Who dreams and interprets? What dreams matter and who has the power to decide that? These are some of the questions that I will explore in this seminar along with other ethnographic and theoretical discussions around the materiality of dreams and art. This presentation is a work in progress which will be submitted for publication later this year so any feedback will be highly appreciated.

Nada Al-Hudaid is a social anthropology PhD candidate at the University of Manchester. Her PhD includes visual work therefore affiliated with the Granada Centre for visual anthropology. Her research is a study of a sub-cultural groups in Kuwait who create rites that enable them to serve the cause of Ahl Al-Bayt within their community, nationally and transnationally with other Shi‘a elsewhere, while striving to maintain their connection with their religious history and to keep certain traditions alive through new forms of adaptations. More specifically, she focused on pious Shi‘a artists and their religious work in Kuwait. This work is based on her one year ethnographic research in Kuwait from 2015 to 2016. Most academic work on Shi‘a are on people who are politically charged or live in an unstable political environments. This, coupled with mainstream media representation of Shi‘a, provide unbalanced perspectives of Shi‘a who live elsewhere. Therefore, her research provide an alternative narrative of Shi‘a who live in a stable and rich country. Further to her ethnographic research experience, Nada did a two years masters in visual culture studies at the Australian National University. She did ethnographic research for nine months with an aboriginal center in Canberra and focused on the challenges of higher education among Australian aboriginal students. In addition to her academic work, she is a photographer and filmmaker who worked in producing and directing various short narrative and documentary films. Her last work before taking a break to focus on PhD is called Hijabi Girls which went to many film festivals around the world including Cannes film corner. It was also featured on BBC three website and shown on TV as part of a documentary called Through Your Lens in 2015 about emerging filmmakers in the UK.

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom


January 25 2019
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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