haeri(at)jhu.edu

 

Niloofar Haeri is a linguistic anthropologist who works on Egypt and Iran.

She was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Stanford Center for Humanities fellowship in 2015-2016 for her project on prayer and poetry among a group of women in Tehran, Iran.

 

 

My present research addresses a series of questions on the work of prayer and poetry in the lives of a group of Iranian women who live in Tehran.

I have been doing the fieldwork for this research since the summer of 2008. In so far as prayer is concerned, both namaz and du’a, I am interested in what the experience is like and what sorts of disagreements exist among these women in the larger context of contemporary Iranian society.

One major site of difference is vis-à-vis the question of materiality–all that can come between an individual and her relationship to God: language, the intercession of saints, specific du’a prayers and so on.

The debates about materiality and sincerity are at times quite similar to those among Christians, in particular between Catholics and Protestants.

For many of these women, “mystic” (irfan) poetry in the form of the versified stories of Masnavi of Rumi has been present since their childhood. At home with their parents or at school they heard and read this poetry whose content is both inspired by the Qur’an and a challenge to its “dry” interpretations put forward by more conservative religious figures.

How do these three genres, co-existing as forms of knowledge shape the subjectivities of these women as Muslims? How do they move these women toward answers to the question that is hovering over many Muslims’ lives these days, namely, what it is to be a “good Muslim”? I am writing a book at the moment on these themes.

Parts of this research are included in my 2013 article in {Anthropological Quarterly} : « The Private Performance of Salat Prayers : Time, Repetition and Meaning. »
My earlier work on Egypt focused on questions of language and gender and on the implications of the modernization movement in relation to language.

What does it mean to modernize a language ? What is a modern language ?

These questions are explored in my 2003 book : {Sacred Language, Ordinary People : Dilemmas of Culture and Politics in Egypt.}

 

 

Some Publications

 

  • Niloofar HAERI, «La Salat et son langage : prier hors de la mosquée», in Myriam ACHOUR-KALLEL (dir.), 2015, Le social par le langage : la parole au quotidien, coll. Hommes et Sociétés, Paris, IRMC-Karthala, 232 p.
  • Catherine Miller et Niloofar Haeri, « Pourquoi un numéro consacré à la question du rapport entre langues, religion et modernité dans l’espace musulman ? », Revue des mondes musulmans et de la Méditerranée, n° 124, novembre 2008.
  • Niloofar HAERI, « De l’utilisation de l’arabe classique », in TransEUROPEennes, Revue internationale de pensée critique, numéro spécial “Les religions en politique. Religions in Politics”, n° 23, 2003.

 

 

For more information, visit her website.