Maria Louw, Laruelle, Marlene (ed.): Being Muslim in Central Asia. Practices, Politics, and Identities. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 327 pp. ISBN 978-​90-​04-​30680-​6. (Eurasian Studies Library, 9). Price: € 121,00 in:

Anthropos, page 239 - 240

Anthropos, Volume 115 (2020), Issue 1, ISSN: 0257-9774, ISSN online: 0257-9774,

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(re)produit et articule Johrei avec les registres de sens locaux liés aux origines du diable et à la restauration de la santé” (146). Vécues comme des miracles, ces “expé‐ riences de la foi” font l’objet de récits publics. Le cha‐ pitre 6 se focalise sur la pratique de johrei mais sans la matérialité afin de rendre présent l’invisible dans leurs corps à travers une atmosphère esthétique. De la même manière, le chapitre 7 analyse comment les prières en japonais produisent une sensation de présence extraordi‐ naire par les sons vocaux. L’auteur aborde la prière non pas en tant que communication avec la divinité, mais en tant que phénomène sonique/ atmosphérique, ce qui per‐ met de comprendre pourquoi ce groupe est condamné par les autres religions. Enfin, le chapitre 8 est consacré au culte des ancêtres et leur signification au quotidien. L’auteur revient sur la multiplicité des modèles eschato‐ logiques à Kinshasa avant d’analyser spécifiquement le culte des ancêtres de “Sekai Kyûseikyô”. Enfin, il sou‐ tient que le concept d’ancêtre mobilisé par le mouve‐ ment spirituel résulte d’une version revisitée de l’idée d’ancêtre au Japon, ce qui le mène à affirmer que ce culte est un orientalisme inversé. Frédérique Louveau ( Laruelle, Marlene (ed.): Being Muslim in Central Asia. Practices, Politics, and Identities. Leiden: Brill, 2018. 327 pp. ISBN 978-90-04-30680-6. (Eurasian Studies Library, 9). Price: € 121,00 This volume, born out of the “Central Eurasia-Reli‐ gion in International Affairs” (CERIA) Initiative, hosted at The George Washington University’s Central Asia Program and edited by Marlene Laruelle, includes con‐ tributions from a broad selection of scholars who have sought to enrich our understanding of Islam in Central Asia through in-depth empirical studies. In the introduc‐ tion, Laruelle situates the volume in the more general recent tendencies in the study of Islam in the region. At‐ tempting to counter the widespread tendency among Western political communities as well as Central Asian regimes to “conflate Islamic practices, political Islam, and paths to violence” (1) and to interpret expressions of religiosity as potential signs of radicalization without concern for their local meanings, many scholars have sought to demonstrate the enormous complexity in how Central Asian Muslims from various walks of life to un‐ derstand Islam and what it means to be Muslim; how Is‐ lam comes to matter in state projects, in scholarly stud‐ ies, in public discourses, and in personal lives. The concern to balance overgeneralizations with em‐ pirical studies is also at the heart of this volume taken as a whole. It is structured in four parts, each of which contain three chapters. Part 1, “What Does it Mean to Be a Muslim in To‐ day’s Central Asia?” explores this overall question from historical and sociological perspectives. In chap. 1, “How ‘Muslim’ are Central Asian Muslims? A Histori‐ cal and Comparative Enquiry,” Galina Yemelianova provides us with an overview of the major historical events and developments, which shaped the region and the ways Islam has been understood and practiced there. In chap. 2, “Two Countries, Five Years. Islam in Ka‐ zakhstan and Kyrgyzstan through the Lens of Public Opinion Surveys,” Barbara Junisbai, Azamat Junisbay, and Baurzhan Zhussupov take a point of departure in survey data to identify patterns in religious practice among Muslims in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, respec‐ tively, concluding that a religious revival is taking place in both countries, but that it is also possible to identify differences which may be attributed to different levels of control of the religious sphere in the two countries. And in chap. 3, “Uzbekness and Islam. A Survey-Based Analysis of Identity in Uzbekistan,” Yaacov Ro’i and Alon Wainer use data from a survey among Uzbek stu‐ dents to argue that the students’ primary identity is with Uzbekistan as a state, and as they, when speaking of their Muslim identity, primarily refer to local customs and traditions. The second part of the volume concerns “Islam, Pol‐ itics, and the State.” In chap. 4, “The Islamic Renais‐ sance Party of Tajikistan. Episodes of Islamic Activism, Postconflict, Accommodation, and Political Marginal‐ ization,” Tim Epkenhans focuses on the Islamic Renais‐ sance Party of Tajikistan and its historical development in relation to the larger society in the past decades, where the Tajik state has become increasingly authori‐ tarian and centralized around the president. In chap. 5, “Power, ‘Original’ Islam, and the Reactivation of a Re‐ ligious Utopia in Kara-Suu, Kyrgyzstan,” Aurélie Biard focuses on two prominent Kyrgyzstani Uzbek Salafi-in‐ spired theologians based in the Fergana Valley and dis‐ cusses how they invoke Islam to legitimize utopian po‐ litical ideologies which fall on fertile ground due to the weakness of the state. She demonstrates how religious debates are inscribed in local power struggles, making it possible to discredit one’s opponent, for example, through labelling him “extremist” or other negative la‐ bels borrowed from official state rhetoric. In chapt. 6, “Islamic Finance and the State in Central Asia,” Alexander Wolters explores the recent history of Islamic finance in Central Asia. He argues that while there was some interest among some Central Asian states in Is‐ lamic finance during the beginning of the global finan‐ cial crisis in 2007, when the political regimes faced po‐ litical crises during the following years, concerns for state security and stability made them less open to the opportunities offered by Islamic finance. The third part of the volume explores “Islam in Evolving Societies and Identities.” In chap. 7, “Visual Culture and Islam in Kazakhstan. The Case of Asyl Ar‐ na’s Social Media,” Wendell Schwab examines how im‐ ages on the social media pages of Asyl Arna, Kaza‐ khstan’s Islamic television network and dominant Is‐ lamic media company in Kazakhstan, promotes Islam as an achievable part of a middle class lifestyle that can provide simple rules for a pious, economically success‐ ful life and a connection to the “numinous” (the divine Book Reviews 239 Anthropos 115.2020 and wondrous aspects of existence) through the Qur’an. In chap. 8, “Playing Cosmopolitan. Muslim Self-Fash‐ ioning, Migration, and (Be-)Longing in the Tajik Dubai Business Sector,” Manja Stephan-Emmrich explores how young, well-educated, male Tajiks involved in Dubai’s business sector strive to convert their vulnera‐ ble and uncertain status as “Tajik migrants” into that of independent and successful “Muslim businessmen.” In chap. 9, “Informal Economies in the Post-Soviet Space: Post-Soviet Islam and Its Role in Ordering En‐ trepreneurship in Central Asia,” Rano Turaeva focuses on entrepreneurs who work transnationally and argues that Islam plays an important role in regulating their lives and economic activities, and that Islam has be‐ come a stronger marker of identity than ethnicity among many of them. The focus of the last part of the volume is “Female Attire as a Public Debate.” In chap. 10, “The War of Billboards. Hijab, Secularism, and Public Space in Bishkek,” Emil Nasritdinov and Nurgul Esenamanova discuss how a growing community of practicing Mus‐ lims in the Kyrgyz capital assert the right to be in the city, live according to its religious ideals, and create Is‐ lamic urban spaces – and how this has become the sub‐ ject of a fierce public debate, focusing, in particular, on female attire. In chap. 11, “Hijab in a Changing Tajik Society,” Shahnoza Nozimova explores public debates surrounding veiling in Tajikistan and their history and argues that for many women, the hijab, rather than indi‐ cating piety, serves the function of mediating the effects of socially unacceptable situations in which they find themselves, being under pressure to find employment outside the home. In chap. 12, “Switching to Satr. An Ethnography of the Particular in Women’s Choices in Head Coverings in Tajikistan,” Marintha Miles, simi‐ larly, focuses on Tajik women who adopt the hijab, out‐ lining a complex landscape of “cultural pressures, fash‐ ion trends, historical processes, and current political processes” (298) around the decision to wear it. Space does not allow me to go into details with the ar‐ guments presented in the individual chapters, but as this short overview hopefully shows, the contributors to this book deal with very different aspects of what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia and do so from a variety of per‐ spectives, having their backgrounds in political science, sociology, anthropology, cultural studies, history, area studies, and Islamic studies, respectively. This is in many ways the strength of the volume, which, as such, provides a good introduction to the meanings of Islam in the region and to some of the more recent ways it has been studied. But perhaps the very broad scope of the book is also its weakness. While I found the individual chapters informa‐ tive and thought-provoking I missed a better integration or cohesion between them. One general point that was strongly brought home in many of the chapters – and which could perhaps have been strengthened by putting the chapters in more conversation with each other – is how little sense it makes to distinguish sharply, as re‐ searchers and commentators have often done (and as many locals are inclined to), between “local” or “tradi‐ tional” interpretations of Islam and Muslimness and “for‐ eign” or “transnational” ones, the first usually seen as apolitical and the second as potentially destabilizing and radicalizing. To be Muslim in Central Asia is more often than not to be engaged with both local, national, and transnational trends, discourses, actors, and media im‐ ages and finding one’s way – political or not – and identity somewhere in the midst of them. These minor reservations aside, the book is very rec‐ ommendable as an introduction to what it means to be Muslim in Central Asia and to some of the important works that have been done recently to deepen our un‐ derstanding of the question. Maria Louw ( Loftsdóttir, Kristín, Andrea L. Smith, and Brigitte Hipfl (eds.): Messy Europe. Crisis, Race, and Nation- State in a Postcolonial World. New York: Berghahn Books, 2018. 244 pp. ISBN 978-1-78533-796-3. (EASA, 32) Price: $ 120.00 The edited volume “Messy Europe. Crisis, Race, and Nation-State in a Postcolonial World” is an original contribution to postcolonial studies of contemporary forms of racialization, nation-state making, and concep‐ tions of Europeanness. The anthology includes eight case chapters, an introduction by the editors Kristín Loftsdóttir, Andrea L. Smith, Brigitte Hipfl, and an epi‐ logue by Thomas Hylland Eriksen. The last decade’s economic crisis serves as a departure point for authors to discuss ways that crisis can be used as a political tool, discursive, rhetorical trope equipped to produce moral panics, negotiate, and contest white European identities and power positions as well as being an important affec‐ tive aspect of lived-everyday-lives. The originality of the book is that it explores the contemporary manifesta‐ tions of racialization, processes of inclusion-exclusion, national identity making, and proliferations of modern nationalisms through this central foci of crisis. As the editors explicate, the anthology explores “what it is like to live under conditions of crisis in different national contexts” (22). It is through the anthropological gaze, methodologically following discursive and lived-life sites in different European national contexts, that the au‐ thors comprehensively reveal the subtle and tacit work‐ ings of crisis that affectively manifest in everyday live. Crisis here is not just another context through which the processes of exclusion-inclusion morph and mani‐ fest. In other words, crisis in this book is approached not as absolute phenomena, but rather as deeply entan‐ gled in the nexus of the production of inequalities, na‐ tion-state making, and processes of racialization. As much as this crisis is contemporary, it is also problemat‐ ically engrained in histories of colonialism, postcolonial forms of global inequalities, and shaping perspectives over the possible futures. Consequently, the authors’ conceptualization of crisis does not depend on attempts 240 Book Reviews Anthropos 115.2020

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Anthropos is the international journal of anthropology and linguistics, founded in 1906 by Wilhelm Schmidt, missonary and member of the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). Its main purpose is the study of human societies in their cultural dimension. In honor of Wilhelm Schmidt‘s legacy, the cultivation of anthropology, ethnology, linguistics, and religious studies remain an essential component oft he Anthropos Institute – the organizational carrier of the journal.


Anthropos - internationale Zeitschrift für Völkerkunde wird vom Anthropos Institut St. Augustin seit 1906 zweimal jährlich herausgegeben. Ursprünglich als Sprachrohr für katholische Missionarsarbeit geplant, gilt sie heute als wichtige Fachzeitschrift der allgemeinen Ethnologie. Sie behandelt sowohl kulturelle als auch sprachliche Themen in mehreren Sprachen, mit Schwerpunkt auf den Völkern des gesamtamerikanischen und afrikanischen Kontinents.