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Based on two years of ethnographic research in the southern suburbs of Beirut, An Enchanted Modern demonstrates that Islam and modernity are not merely compatible, but actually go hand-in-hand.

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This eloquent ethnographic portrayal of an Islamic community articulates how an alternative modernity, and specifically an enchanted modernity, may be constructed by Shi'I Muslims who consider themselves simultaneously deeply modern, cosmopolitan, and pious. Reviews Review Policy. Published on. Flowing text, Original pages. Best For.

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An Enchanted Modern: Gender and Public Piety in Shi'i Lebanon - ProQuest

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It is an excellent analysis of the way that women, in particular, live and define a modern, "authenticated" Islam in the neighborhoods of al-Dahiyya, the sprawling suburb south of Beirut that was pummeled by Israel in the "July War" of Both theoretically and ethnographically, Deeb offers nuanced and thorough analyses, all the while being attentive to overlapping, contradictory, and shifting viewpoints. She disentangles theoretical discussions of modernity, place, embodiment and other concepts central to her analysis while at the same time keeping a keen eye on the subtle and telling details of everyday life.

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There are no oversimplifications here. The theoretically packed Introduction deftly sets the stage for all that follows and gives a particularly interesting and important analysis of how Islam and modernity intertwine in al-Dahiyya. Ultimately, this book makes a compelling case for the anthropological approach and its painstaking attention to the quotidian. Additionally, she does not commit the sin of presenting some kind of timeless reality among Lebanon's Shi'ite population.

Rather, Deeb always contextualizes what she observes.

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  • What do Shi'ites variously think, for example, regarding how Husayn or Zaynab can be models for living in today's reality? Or, on a more mundane level, what are and were views on embodied practices such as wearing hejab or shaking hands? Deeb entered her field research working as a volunteer in a jam 'iyya, one of many charitable organizations in al-Dahiyya that fill the Lebanese state's looming gaps in basic social services such as public health care, education, poverty assistance, and orphan services. Several of the women whom she encountered while volunteering became key to her research which focuses on these women's efforts to live a "pious modem" life dedicated to theirs and their community's political, material, and spiritual betterment.