2013 • $25.00 • 168 pp • paper
Weaving through Islam in Senegal explores how artists practice their craft work in the contexts of Sufism and daily life in central Senegal. Drawing from 17 months of ethnographic study, this volume is a close look at everyday practices of religious beliefs and arts practices in two weaving communities. Placed in context of this region's religious history, this book describes a contemporary religious diversity that includes Sufism, indigenous religions, and an environment rich in artistic expressions of belief. By focusing on weavers' perspectives on Islam in daily life, illuminated through personal interviews, this book explores the relationships between artists and their beliefs. Religious beliefs are not their only motivation for weaving, though. Weavers integrate their religious affiliations with their familial, ethnic, and regional heritages, creating a set of beliefs that inspires their art work.
Weaving through Islam in Senegal is written for a wide interdisciplinary audience in the arts, social sciences, and humanities, in its combination of historical and ethnographic approaches to art and belief. The discussion of local arts-based development projects will resonate with those involved in economic development. Artists and those interested in expressive cultures of West Africa will find descriptions of artists' workshops and weaving techniques.
By exploring the diversity of personal responses to religious beliefs, this book will give greater attention to the practical importance of Islam in everyday life, and also the significance that beliefs have in creative expression.
This book is part of the Ritual Studies Monograph Series, edited by Pamela J. Stewart and Andrew Strathern, Department of Anthropology, University of Pittsburgh.
"[In] Cochrane's compelling book, Weaving through Islam in Senegal, the author makes use of interviews, archival sources, and a wide range of relevant scholarship, including seminal writing on belief, practice, and discourse by Bourdieu, Foucault, Gell, Keane, and Peirce. Cochrane's prose is considerate, moving between analysis and memorable ethnographic detail of her time as an apprentice weaver and researcher in Senegal ... Cochrane's book has many merits, including its comprehensive yet focused framework, trenchant analysis of nearly two years of field research, and thoughtful writing ... [T]his book will be significant not just to scholarship on expressive culture and art history but also to studies dealing with anthropology and religion in Senegal and Africa more broadly." — Journal of Anthropological Research
"The book is useful for social sciences, to humanities, to travelers, to researchers, etc. Apart from anthropology the book is a masterpiece for the students of the sociology of religion and Muslim studies and Sufism experts in particular." — Adfer Rashid Shah, Jamia Millia Islamia
If you are a professor teaching in this field you may request a complimentary copy.