Accepted paper:

The imaginary infrastructure of the chronotope: the virtual ordering of people and places through visions and visits in the veneration of Muslims saints in Hatay, Turkey


Jens Kreinath (Wichita State University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper presents an ethnographic account of the chronotope as the imaginary infrastructure in the veneration of a Muslim saint as practiced at sacred sites in Hatay, Turkey. In particular, it addresses how the worship of Muslim saints orders people and places through visits and their appearance in visions.

Paper long abstract:

This paper presents ethnographic accounts on local traditions of the veneration of a Muslim saint as practiced at sacred sites in Hatay, Turkey. In particular, it addresses the worship of Hızır, who is venerated in wish-making, as well as that of Şeyh Yusuf el-Hekim, who was supposedly a medical doctor and worshiped for his power of healing in dreams. The Qur'anic narrative of Moses' encounter with Hızır is presented in this paper as a chronotope, which following Mikhail Bakhtin serves as a template for interpreting personal accounts of virtual encounters with Hızır, as well as other forms of dreaming and healing experiences related to Muslim saints like Şeyh Yusuf el-Hekim. Elaborating on the spatial and temporal dimensions of the legendary encounter of Moses with Hızır, the local interpretations of this narrative are each taken as dimensions of a chronotope. These dimensions play a significant role in shaping traditions of saint veneration among members of the Sunni and Alawi communities in Hatay. Historians of religion and anthropologists of the Middle East widely acknowledge that the veneration of saints played a major role in the formation and transmission of local traditions of Islam; however, scholars working within the anthropology of Islam in Turkey and the Middle East have not yet sufficiently theorized these features in relation to virtual encounters with Muslim saints, in particular, they did not explore alternative ways to approach and interpret these encounters.

panel P060
The anthropology of infrastructure: ordering people, places, and imaginaries