Qur'anic Matters: Media and Materiality Public Deposited

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  • March 19, 2019
  • Suit, Natalia
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Anthropology
  • Mushaf (read with "s" and "h" separately) is what Muslims call the physical body of the Quran, its pages, binding, and print. In contrast to earlier works on the holy book of Muslims, in my dissertation I shift from studying the Quranic text exclusively as message to its corporeal existence as an object in the hands of its manufacturers and users in Egypt, treating its production and consumption as meaning-making processes. I approach materiality of the Quran -- the corporeal and electronic medium of the text -- as a place for tracking transformations of religious authority, agency, knowledge and Muslim practice in the context of changing technologies of text production. By looking at different media forms (manuscript, print, and digital devices) that disseminate the text of the Quran, I follow tensions existing between a manufactured object, tradition, and practical religious experience among Muslims in Egypt. I treat material carrier of the Quran as an object that mediates between institutionalized authority epitomized by the University of al-Azhar (the oldest religious institution in the Middle East) that controls Quranic production, markets of publishing houses that manufacture printed and electronic "Qurans," and socially and economically diversified public consumers of the holy word in Egypt and beyond. Egypt is not the only potentate on the Muslim religious publishing market; highlighting the materiality of the Quranic text allows me to track the connections and tensions that arise between Egypt and Saudi Arabia, a new competitor in the production of Qurans. Through this project, I show how the Quran as an object participates in configuring social ties both locally and transnationally.
Date of publication
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Rights statement
  • In Copyright
  • Tomaskova, Silvia
  • Peacock, James L.
  • Starrett, Gregory
  • Ochoa, Todd
  • Ernst, Carl
  • Wiener, Margaret
  • Doctor of Philosophy
Degree granting institution
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Graduate School
Graduation year
  • 2014
  • Middle East
Place of publication
  • Chapel Hill, NC
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