Practising Fractal Shi’i Identities through Muharram Rituals in Mumbai
by Reza Masoudi Nejad
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This article explains the Shi’a-Muslims in Mumbai as a fractal society, a social organisation constituted of numerous social segments, each with its own shape and structure. As a result, this article refers to Shi’i identities, not one single Shi’i identity. In particular, the discussion explores how the fractal organisation of Shi’a society and diverse Shi’i identities are practised through Muharram rituals. This paper shows that each Shi’a community has invented and reinvented its identity over time through Muharram rituals, and that Mumbai as a cosmopolitan city has intensified the need for the reinvention of identities.
Suggested bibliographic reference for this article:
Masoudi Nejad, R., Practising Fractal Shi’i Identities through Muharram Rituals in Mumbai. Diversities. 2012, vol. 14, no. 2, pp. 102-117, UNESCO. ISSN 2079-6595
About the author
Reza Masoudi Nejad has recently joined Zentrum Moderner Orient (Berlin) as Alexander von Humboldt Fellow. He has also been affiliated with SOAS, University of London as Research Associate since 2011. Reza was a Research Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Religious and Ethnic Diversity (2009-2011), where carried out a two-year research project about Muharram rituals in Mumbai. He is an architect and urbanist interested in the spatial organisation of rituals, the interaction between society and space, and urban transformation. Reza received his PhD from the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London in 2009.