What is Sufi performance? Sufism is usually defined broadly as Islamic mysticism, or spirituality; it is frequently viewed as universal in outlook and beyond the confines of narrow religious identities. Yet in practice, Sufi traditions are inescapably local, defined by particular lineages of masters and disciples, and frequently centered on very physical shrines to local Sufi saints. While Qur’anic references are common in Sufi performance, and Arabic texts may be frequently performed in non-Arabic environments, local languages and musical idioms play defining roles in the experience of Sufi rituals, particularly the central practice of zikr, the recollection of the divine. In this conference, we draw on a variety of  local practices of Sufi performance to challenge the global narrative of monolithic Sufism.

This is joint conference of The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Université Cheikh Anta Diop.

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