Katherine Ewing

Columbia University

Recreating a Sufi Subject in the Modern Nation State: Public Religion and the New Sufism in Northwest Africa

Her project at the Institute for Ideas and Imagination, originally funded by ACLS, examines the effects of shifting policies toward Sufism on local subjectivities and their implications for understanding how Islam is evolving as a living religious tradition within a fraught global order. Based on psychoanalytically-informed ethnographic research among young men and women in Mauritania, Morocco, and Senegal, she will work on an innovative multi-media ethnography focused on the roles Sufi ideas, experiences, and practices play in their understandings of the world, themselves, and their futures.

Katherine Pratt Ewing has been Professor of Religion at Columbia University since 2011, after moving from Duke University’s Cultural Anthropology Department. She has done ethnographic fieldwork in South Asia and among Muslims in Europe and the United States focused on debates among Muslims about the proper practice of Islam in the modern world, the place of Muslims within the German national imaginary, and sexualities, gender, and the body in South Asia. Until recently, she served as Director of Columbia’s Institute for Religion, Culture, and Public Life and is currently PI, with Matthew Engelke, on the Luce-funded project "Rethinking Public Religion in Africa and South Asia." Her previous books include Arguing Sainthood: Modernity, Psychoanalysis and Islam (1997), Stolen Honor: Stigmatizing Muslim Men in Berlin (2008), and the edited volumes Shariat and Ambiguity in South Asian Islam (1988) and Being and Belonging: Muslim Communities in the US since 9/11 (2008).

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