Mediality and materiality in religious performance: religion as heritage in Mauritius

2013 | journal article; research paper. A publication of Göttingen

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​Mediality and materiality in religious performance: religion as heritage in Mauritius​
Eisenlohr, P. ​ (2013) 
Material Religion. The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief9(3) pp. 328​-349​.​ DOI: 

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Eisenlohr, Patrick 
In Mauritius, religious performance often doubles as officially recognized diasporic heritage, institutionalized as a component of Mauritians' “ancestral cultures.” Such forms of religious expression not only point to a source of authority outside Mauritius but also play a key role in legitimizing claims on Mauritian citizenship. In this article, I examine two kinds of practices that help to instantiate religious links as heritage: ritual performance combined with the cultivation of “ancestral language” in the context of a Hindu pilgrimage and the role of sound reproduction techniques in popularizing a particular genre of Islamic devotional poetry. I argue that these embodied and material practices illustrate two contrasting modes of engaging with spatially and temporally removed sources of authenticity. While the pilgrimage aims at naturalizing diasporic links through their objectification and iconization, uses of sound reproduction technology in Islamic devotional contexts establish links to sources of religious authority under the assumption that the medium used is relatively transparent. Ultimately, the modalities of materiality presupposed in the ethnographic examples account for the authenticating effect of religion as heritage.
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Material Religion. The Journal of Objects, Art and Belief 
Sozialwissenschaftliche Fakultät ; Institut für Ethnologie 



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