Sabrina Mervin is a French researcher at the “centre national de la recherche scientifique” and a historian of contemporary Shi’ism. In particular, she studies how Karbala paradigm and Muharram rituals shape Shi’ite communities’ identity and how this identity is subject to change in response to socio-political transformations.
|Occupation||Professor and Author|
Sabrina Mervin was born in 1958 in France. She spent about ten years in the Middle East (Syria, the Lebanon) doing research. Her main research topics are:
- Anthropological history of Twelver Shi'ism, 19 - 21 centuries
- The making of religious authority
- Shiite rituals and pilgrimages (particularly Ziyarat Arbaeen)
- Member of the IFPO scientific council (2008-2017)
- Member of the scientific committee of GIS “Middle East & Muslim Worlds” since the end of 2012
- Member of the Islamology committee since 2017.
- Member of the award committee of the Michel Seurat Grant since 2019
- Member of the scientific committee of the REMMM since 2004.
- Member of the editorial board of ASSR since 2010.
- Member of the scientific committee of editions Diacritiques since 2015
- Co-responsible for the “Contemporary History” collection with Candice Raymond.
Selected Articles On Karbala ParadigmEdit
- Ashura Rituals, Identity and Politics: A Comparative Approach (Lebanon and India), in Farhad Daftary, Gurdofarid Miskinzoda (eds.), The Study of Shi'i Islam: History, Theology and Law (Shi'i Heritage Series), IB Tauris, London, 2014, pp. 507-528. halshs-01860355
In this article, she explores how Karbala paradigm has been reinterpreted over time. The Karbala paradigm and the Ashura / Muharram rituals shape a religious culture common to all communities of the Shi‘i worlds. This Karbala paradigm is not fixed, but was changed, during the 20th century: reform, politicization and gender discourse reinvented tradition, in different ways depending on the social groups involved and on the societies and contexts they live in. Religious authorities play a more or less important role in this process.
In this Issue, two questions are particularly explored with a comparative approach, images and ritual objects on the one hand, and rituals of mortification on the other hand.
- Sayyida Zaynab, Banlieue de Damas ou nouvelle ville sainte chiite?, Cahiers d’études sur la Méditerranée orientale et le monde turco-iranien, 1996
In this article, she explores the social dynamic of Ziarat in the highly sectarian context of Middle East. Sayyida Zaynab receives each year the visit of more than one million pilgrims who go to mourn the Ahl Al-bayt, the members of the family of the Prophet. Since the end of the last century, the pilgrimage has become Shiite, which makes the city doubly foreign in the eyes of the Syrians. The reasons are, on the one hand, the fact that Shiite cultural practices are distinct from Sunnis and, on the other hand, the fact that most pilgrims are Iranians, i.e. non-Arab populations.