The Calls of Islam

The Calls of Islam

Sufis, Islamists, and Mass Mediation in Urban Morocco
Emilio Spadola
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 12/25/2013
Format: Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-253-01137-4
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Honorable Mention, 2014 Clifford Geertz Prize in the Anthropology of ReligionHonorable Mention, 2015 L. Carl Brown AIMS Book Prize in North African Studies

The sacred calls that summon believers are the focus of this study of religion and power in Fez, Morocco. Focusing on how dissemination of the call through mass media has transformed understandings of piety and authority, Emilio Spadola details the new importance of once–marginal Sufi practices such as spirit trance and exorcism for ordinary believers, the state, and Islamist movements. The Calls of Islam offers new ethnographic perspectives on ritual, performance, and media in the Muslim world.

Author Bio

Emilio Spadola is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Colgate University.


“Writing with great subtlety and insight, Spadola shows us how a technological imaginary has forcefully insinuated itself into the categories and practices of religious reformism in contemporary Morocco. An ethnographic and historical examination of Islamic ritual practices in the era of mass communication, The Calls of Islam provides a superb demonstration of anthropological analysis at its best. A major contribution to our understanding of the complicated nexus of religion, nationalism, and technology.”
 — Charles Hirschkind, University of California, Berkeley

“Combining historical and ethnographic data, Spadola develops a theoretically sophisticated reading of the mediation of social and spiritual relationships in Fez. . . . A compelling investigation of the changing dynamics of mystical presence and its relationship to multiple logics of compulsion and desire in Moroccan social life.”
 — Gregory Starrett, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“[The] tension between social classes is subtly drawn out throughout this exemplary book, and Spadola also does a magnificent job tying local, national, and transnational contexts together. Although writing about a very specific place and time, he manages to capture post-millennial anxieties about Islam and belonging that are far reaching in their scope.”
 — Contemporary Islam

“Spadola's dense but short study . . . manages admirably well to deal with a complex topic, skillfully balancing ethnographic and analytic elements.”
 — American Ethnologist

“Calls of Islam is an instructive contribution to the literature on Morocco’s socio-culltural and political idiosyncrasies.”
 — Review of Middle East Studies

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Table of Contents

Introduction: The Calls of Islam
1. Calls from the Unseen
2. Nationalizing the Call: Trance, Technology and Control
3. Our Master's Call
4. Summoning in Secret: Mute Letters and Veiled Writing
5. Rites of Reception
6. Trance-Nationalism; or the Call of Moroccan Islam
7. "To Eliminate the Ghostly Element between People:" The Call as Exorcism Epilogue: The Arab Spring, the Monarchy's Call

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