Youssef Carter

Fellowship Recipient, Rocca Dissertation Research Fellowship
Department: Anthropology
Country Expertise: Senegal
Fellowship Year(s): 2015
Project/Theme Title: "Remembering God: Religious Subjectivities, Spiritual Networks, and Diasporic Existence among African-American and Senegalese Muslims"
Abstracts: This project explores the construction of diasporic and religious selfhood among Muslims in the American South and in Senegal who are members of a transnational Sufi order - the Mustafawiyya Tariqa. It asks the following questions: what can the performance of zikr (remembrance) practices and discourses about "spiritual proximity" tell us about fictive (and sometimes actual) kinship relations, historical memory, and diasporic networks for Muslims of varying African descent in the southern United States and Senegal? The central proposal here is to open up questions about notions of memory, imagination, and travel for scholarship as they pertain to African-descended Muslims in the context of a Senegalese Islamic tradition. By centering an ethnographic study upon the zawiyyah (group) in South Carolina and Senegal, this research pushes us to consider diasporic nodes as sites of pilgrimage for African-descended Muslims and how discourses on migration intersect with considerations of subjectivity, place, and memory.
Fellowship Year(s): 2014
Project/Theme Title: Religious Subjectivities, Spiritual Networks, and Diasporic Existence among African-American and Senegalese Muslims
Abstracts: This project requests funding to study identity construction and invocational practices of "remembrance" among African-American and Senegalese Muslims that are part of the Mustafawiyya Sufi order in South Carolina and in Senegal. I will observe communal religious practices and conduct interviews with these Muslim practitioners who circulate and consume materials (audio recordings of lectures and poetry, prayer books) that are designated for spiritual cultivation. Information gathered from this study will address the relationship between diasporic networks, religious goods, spiritual performance, and configurations of ethical selfhood: how does participation in the circulation of religious materials contribute to transnational spiritual network expansion? Further, what can consumption of these materials tell us about how objects constitute social and spiritual identities? What effects (and affects) does spiritual performance and religious travel have on the formation on diasporic selfhood? This study will contribute to discourses on identity construction, religious subjectivity, and diasporic belonging."