Voices of the ritual: devotion to female saints and shrines in the Holy Land

Research output: Book/ReportBook


"Voices of the Ritual analyzes the revival of and manifestation of rituals at female saint shrines in the Holy Land. The book's central claim is that, in the Middle East, a turbulent, often violent political context, states tend to have no clear physical borders, and lands are constantly at stake. In this context, deprived ethno-religious groups with no voice in the political, cultural, media, and legal arenas look for alternative venues to voice their entitlements. Through the book I argue that in Israel/Palestine, religious minorities (Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Druze, and others) employ rituals in various sacred places, especially female saints' shrines, to claim their belonging to and appropriation of territory. At the heart of this book is the question: What does this female ritualistic revival mean-politically, culturally, and spatially? To answer this question, I base my analysis on a long ethnographic study (2003-2017) that analyzes the rise of female sacred shrines, focusing on four dimensions of the ritual: the body in motion, female materiality, place, and the rituals encrypted in the Israel/Palestine landscape. The book sets out to examine the popularity of body rituals in sacred places, and the female themes that stem from these rituals. I show that, in the practices at these shrines, mostly canonical, the idea of the "body in motion" is central, with rituals imitating birth and the cycle of life using a set of body gestures. These mimetic rituals, performed by men and women, are intimate forces that extend between the female saint and the worshippers. Female materiality strengthens intimacy and creates a bridge between the experience and the material. Minority groups in these venues, Jews and Christians, use these sacred shrines, their female contents and intimate bodily ritualistic experience, to stake a claim to and appropriate the land. The intimacy between saint and worshipper (females and males each in their own ... [long field truncated]
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, United States of America
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages202
ISBN (Electronic)0197501311, 0197501338, 9780197501337
ISBN (Print)0197501303, 9780197501306
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameOxford ritual studies
PublisherOxford University Press


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