The Legacy of a Pious Trickster: Incorporating the Christian Other in a Muslim Saint’s Festival
By Cassandra Chambliss
Friday, March 11th
3:30 - 5:00 pm
Performance & Lecture Hall
800 N. Indiana Ave.
The festival of Abul Hajjaj in Luxor, Egypt, is an expression of Muslim and Hajjaji piety and a commemoration of the taking of Luxor by Yusuf Abul Hajjaj in the 13th century. Through annual re-enactments of the Muslim saint's clever besting of Luxor's Christian queen, it also offers an important window into the tensions and engagements between the Hajjaji community and the Christian Other.
Based on my dissertation research on the role of these performances in the constitution of ethical practice in the Muslim community, this talk will address how the public performance of Muslim rituals reflects Muslims' relationships to the Christian community, and gives them ways to manage the problematic Christian body buried under the mosque. In light of the 2011 revolution and continuing protests throughout Egypt, this work also suggests patterns of exclusion and desertion in the ritual use of public space that have not yet been challenged by recent, unprecedented activities in Tahrir Square.
Cassandra Chambliss is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology and has spent seven years studying and conducting research in Egypt. Her dissertation on the festival of Abul Hajjaj is part of a larger examination of the relationships between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, particularly as expressed in the complex traditions of saint veneration in both faith communities. Her research interests include cultural performance, festival, verbal arts, slaughtering and animal husbandry, Sufism, Coptic culture, and the American South.