Re-examining the place of textuality in Islamic Studies

Texts Across Disciplines and Fields

Amira Mittermaier


Joud Alkorani

April 18, 2021


Professor Amira Mittermaier describes how her trajectory from being a student of Islamic Studies in Germany to an anthropologist in North America has shaped how she approaches texts in her research today. She reflects upon the multitude of ways texts matter to Muslims in Egypt, providing examples of the ways she centers these written works in her fieldwork—by reading key texts alongside her interlocutors, for instance. Professor Mittermaier also introduces listeners to her latest project, Ethnographies of God, exploring how it helps trouble the demarcation between anthropology and theology, and considering what this unsettling means for anthropologists of Islam and their engagement of texts.

Recorded: Dec 17, 2020

Amira Mittermaier

Amira Mittermaier is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Department of Anthropology. Bringing together textual analysis and ethnographic fieldwork, her research to date has focused on modern Islam in Egypt. Her first book, Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination, explores Muslim practices of dream interpretation, as they are inflected by Islamic reformism, Western psychology, and mass mediation. Her more recent book, Giving to God: Islamic Charity in Revolutionary Times, describes a religious ethics of giving in which believers engage with God by way of giving to the poor. Building on these two projects and drawing on additional fieldwork in Egypt, Professor Mittermaier’s current research works toward what she calls an “ethnography of God.”

Joud Alkorani

Joud Alkorani is a PhD Candidate at the Department for the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto, where she is also affiliated with the Center for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. Joud is also currently a Dissertation Fellow at the Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire. An anthropologist by training, Joud’s current project is an ethnography of how neoliberal economic and social policies shape the everyday lives of migrant Muslim women in Dubai. Her research lies at the intersection of diaspora and transnationalism, religion and spirituality, and the modern Middle East.

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