An Enchanted Modern

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An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon
An Enchanted Modern.gif
AuthorLara Deeb
PublisherPrinceton University Press

The book An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon can be read as a depiction of life in an Islamist community, it is the conceptual deployments around the notion of being pious and modern.

About the author[edit | edit source]

Professor Lara Deeb is a first-generation U.S. citizen and an Arab-American scholar, educator, and activist. She is a cultural anthropologist and Assistant Professor of Women's Studies at the University of California, Irvine. Her research interests include the politics of knowledge production; gender and sexuality; religion, especially Islam; transnational feminism; and the Middle East, especially Lebanon. Her current book project uses social responses to intersectarian and interreligious relationships and marriages in Lebanon to better understand social sectarianism and sect as a form of social difference.

About the book[edit | edit source]

This book published in Princeton University Press (March 19, 2006), has 288 pages and best sellers rank of 369,899 in Books.

Lara Deeb provides a conceptual geography, the methodological, theoretical and positional setting for this book. She aims to unravel the complexity around how pious Shi’i Muslims understand “being modern” and how they engage with and deploy various discourses and ideas about modernness. She tries to explore the new forms of piety, especially publicly performed piety, that have taken root in the community over the past three decades, and the ways that the normativization of public piety affects people’s, especially women’s, lives.

Abstract of chapters[edit | edit source]

Part 1: Encounters, Approaches, Spaces, Moments[edit | edit source]

Chapter One, Al-Dahiyya: Sight, Sound, Season

In this chapter, the author depicts al-Dahiyya, the area of Beirut where the urban heart of the Shi’i pious modern lies, in order to excavate the visual, aural, and seasonal transformation of this public space into one of piety. Through this part the ways the pious modern saturates the area, evidence of its visibility on the national stage is shown.

Chapter Two, From Marginalization to Institutionalization

In this chapter the author steps back and provides some crucial history and background, especially concerning the institutionalization of the Lebanese Shi’i Islamic movement over the past three decades. In this section we have a report of what happened to religion for Lebanese, the failures of the left, the success of the Islamic Revolution in Iran, and the Israeli invasions and occupation of Lebanon.

Part 2: Living an Enchanted Modern[edit | edit source]

Chapter Three, The Visibility of Religion in Daily Life

This chapter focuses on religious practices and discourses and how they permeate daily life in ways that are considered new. The author considers embodied and discursive forms of piety, as she believes they emerge as both public markers of personal faith and markers of the spiritual progress of the community.

Chapter Four Ashura: Authentication and Sacrifice

This chapter is about a religious season, known as Ashura, the annual commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, grandson of the Prophet Muhammad and one of the most important figures in Shi’ism. What happened in Ashura and the commemoration’s importance as a contemporary narrative framework for living public piety provides a way through which to explore the shift to authenticated Islam in all its complexity.

Chapter Five Community Commitment

In chapter 5, Lara Deeb takes up women’s volunteerism as the vehicle through which women’s piety is most clearly brought into the public realm. Women’s community service activities are discussed as crucial to both material and spiritual progress. She also considers the ways that piety and politics, as well as humanitarian sentiment and historical models like those of Ashura, merge to motivate women’s public participation.

Chapter Six, Public Piety as Women’s Jihad

This chapter emphasizes on the ways gender is implicated in public piety and the pious modern. The author explores how public piety is cast as women’s jihad and the implications of its imperative on women’s lives, as well as the relationship between women’s visibility and ideas about modern-ness.

Chapter Seven, The Pious Modern Ideal and Its Gaps

This chapter is about generational differences and the concomitant gaps in public piety which concludes with a revisiting of the pious modern ideal in the contemporary context.

source[edit | edit source]