Past Event

BOAS SEMINAR - Amira Mittermaier, "Ninety-Nine: Towards an Ethnography of God"

April 12, 2023
4:10 PM - 6:00 PM
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963 Schermerhorn Extension

According to the Islamic tradition, the quintessential human flaw is not sinfulness but forgetfulness. One tool for overcoming this forgetfulness is dhikr, the repeated recitation of God’s ninety-nine names. Yet, the ninety-nine names figure also in other ways: believers actively put them to use, calling on specific attributes of God, such as Healer or All-Powerful, to invite divine intervention, or seeking to emulate God’s attributes to become more God-like. Drawing on fieldwork in Egypt in the post Arab Spring era, this talk reflects on Allah’s ninety- nine names, on the possibility of approaching God ethnographically, and on the question of what it is to be human.

Amira Mittermaier is Professor of Anthropology and the Study of Religion at the University of Toronto. She is the author of the award-winning Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination (University of California Press, 2011) and of Giving to God: Islamic Charity in Revolutionary Times (University of California Press, 2019), and editor of The Afterlife in the Arab Spring (Routledge, 2019). Currently she is working on a book titled Ninety-Nine which weaves together stories about how Egyptian Muslims relate to, think about, and live with (or without) God. 

A reception will follow the talk in the Robert F. Murphy/Morton H. Fried Anthropology Lounge, room 465 Schermerhorn Extension.