(Mark Sedgwick, Aarhus University)
The postmodern type of the creative “spiritual” entrepreneur is characteristic of certain milieus within the contemporary Muslim world as well as of European modernity. One of its characteristic locations in the West has been alternative religion. Something similar is also to be found in the Muslim world: “Postmodern Sufism.” This is what Sufism has always been—a strictly pious form of behavior and a site for the application of technologies of the self—but it is also the reflection in a Muslim context of similar factors to those that produced Neo-Sufism in the West: conceptions of authenticity and personal fulfillment, and responses to the instrumental rationality and scientific worldview of first modernity.
This subproject will focus on how Postmodern Sufism is not just surviving modernity but actually forming it, and at how different varieties of Postmodern Sufism can be understood as forms of “post-Islamism.” It will explore how Postmodern Sufis understand their spiritual journeys and practices, thus contributing to the construction of meaningful Muslim selfhoods. Fieldwork will be carried out in several different milieus in Cairo and elsewhere, with a focus on conceptions of “Traditional Islam.” It will be supplemented by limited fieldwork in related milieus in cyberspace, Morocco and the West.