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Platt, Katherine Harriet (1987) Ritual and Local Identity on the Kerkennah Islands of Tunisia. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI: https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033972

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Abstract

Identification with place of origin is a critical resource for rural populations who are challenged by labor migration and a new national culture. It is a resource for the migrants because a claim on membership in the home community affords access to economic, political, and social networks organized on the basis of local ties. It is also a psychological anchor in the face of economic insecurity, and urban anonymity. It is a resource for the home community because it allows a reciprocal claim to be made on the migrating population, linking it to otherwise inaccessible benefits of the modern, urban, national culture. Participation in the ritual system is the most intense and efficient way for the home and migrating segments of the Kerkennah community to reassert their connection to each other. Encoded in the life cycle and annual rituals are the cultural rules for how to be a Muslim, how to be a man or woman, and not least, how to be a Kerkenni. The ritual system is not strictly a conservative force in defining and maintaining local identity. It is also progressive in providing a torum for participating migrants to register an innovative voice. This study makes two contributions to the discussion of the Big and Little Traditions pursued by scholars concerned with local interpretations of scriptural religions. One is that at least in an Islamic context, both the Big and Little Traditions are written in the code of gender and it is impossible to understand the interaction of the two traditions without first understanding the relationship of male and female weighted readings of the culture. The second is that in a country like Tunisia, there are not two interacting traditions, but three: the Big, the Little and the New. The New Tradition, which is nationalism, is a competitor rather than a transformation of the Big Tradition. This competition reinforces the importance of local identity.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier): https://doi.org/10.25501/SOAS.00033972
Date Deposited: 12 Oct 2020 17:26
URI: https://eprints.soas.ac.uk/id/eprint/33972

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