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09.01.2021

“Some kind of family”: Hijra between people and places

Zeitschrift:
Contemporary Islam
Autor:
Joud Alkorani
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Abstract

This article follows one woman’s serial migration to, away from, and back to Dubai in order to consider the intersections of migration, subjectivity, and piety. It analyzes how Hanna’s migratory journey, or hijra, relates to her desire to become pious and reveals how people in her life shape the trajectories of both her faith and her movement. Engaging scholarship on migration and ethical subjectivity, it traces how Hanna’s mobility runs parallel to her attempt to surround herself by those who make her piety possible. Whether it is the relationship with her parents and siblings in Birmingham, or the community of “sisters in Islam” she establishes in Dubai, Hanna is moved both by aspirations of piety and by the people who support (or inhibit) her efforts, highlighting the social nature of the geographic places she moves through and inhabits. Recognizing the ability of others to help or hinder her spiritual goals, Hanna actively seeks to settle amongst those who motivate and empower her to become the ideal Muslim she desires to be. Seen in this way, Hanna’s experience allows us to shift from a notion of subjectivity premised upon individualized acts of self-cultivation like prayer, fasting, or veiling to an appreciation of the intersubjective role of others in the development of the self. Combining this intersubjective lens with an alternative account of mobility, I argue for understanding Hanna’s self-positioning as an act that is not only geographic, but (inter)subjective, with the trajectory of her piety discernible both geographically and socially.

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