Exploring Contemporary Shi’ism in European and Middle Eastern Contexts (Panel II-I)

Professor Avi Astor – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Public Lamentation Processions and Civic Performativity among Shia in Barcelona

Recent work on diasporic religiosity has emphasized how public rituals serve as a stage for religious minorities to become visible, assert their rights, and gain recognition. Although this focus has yielded important insights, it has led scholars to overlook alternative forms of civic performativity that, while less conspicuous, are nonetheless crucial for understanding how religious minorities demonstrate deservingness of inclusion in the polity. We challenge this assertive bias in the study of public religiosity by drawing attention to more “conciliatory” forms of civic performativity, or performative practices that demonstrate qualities associated with civility (e.g., respect for local norms, compliance with the law, and openness to dialogue and compromise). We highlight various features of local Shia leaders in Barcelona that dispose them toward conciliatory rather than assertive forms of civic performativity, most notably their migration trajectory and socio-structural location.