Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards

Emrah Yildiz

Harvard University

2017 Winner (Social Sciences)

Emrah Yildiz

Emrah Yildiz

The Ways of Zainab: Visitations and Valuations between Iran and Syria via Turkey
Harvard University, Anthropology/Middle East Studies
Supervised by Ajantha Subramanian

The Committee received a rather large number of submission, 36 in total. After careful review and discussion of the files, the Committee found, “The Ways of Zainab: Visitations and Valuations between Iran and Syria via Turkey,” by Dr. Emrah Yıldız the winner. The dissertation is from Departments of Anthropology/Middle East Studies, Harvard University and it was supervised by Professor Ajantha Subramanian. The Committee was very impressed by the creative and comparative qualities of the analysis and the substantial ethnographical and archival research for this dissertation.

The dissertation traces the Hajj-e Fuqara’ (pilgrimage of the poor), from bus stations in Iran through informal Turkish bazaars, to the Sayyida Zainab shrine near Damascus.  Based on ethnographic and archival research in Iran, Turkey, northern Syria, and Lebanon, it chronicles the transformation of a late nineteenth century shrine into the revered destination of ziyarat (visitation), by the 1980s. The dissertation investigates border makers and border crossers, both territorial state borders, and the experiential and conceptual borders of religion, economy, and politics. Dr. Yıldız illustrates the mutual constitution of religion, economy, and sovereignty, focused on micro-historical and ethnographic detail, moving between scales, from transnational to national and interpersonal

2017 Review Committee
Ali Mirsepassi, New York University (chair)
Janine A. Clark, University of Guelph
Banu Gokariksel, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Mostafa Minawi, Cornell University

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