Conference: Religious Minorities' Self-Representations

Panel 4A

(Self-)Representation in Documentary Films

Chair: Mariecke van den Berg (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
Room: Sweelinckzaal, Drift 21

‘Material Politics of Belonging and Representations of Laestadianism’ – Sandra Wallenius-Korkalo (PhD Candidate, Political Science, University of Lapland)
This paper looks at how cultural products ‘make sense’ of a conservative Christian religious movement through expressions of difference and sameness. It discusses four contemporary representations of Laestadian movement from Finland and the United States: a film, a novel, a reality-television show, and a theatre play. The representations range from fictional productions to personal accounts. The paper approaches politics of religious belonging as a thoroughly embodied matter. The interplay of in- and exclusions of Laestadianism emerges from everyday practises – control over clothing, behaviour, movement, and being-in-common – and is situated on gendered and sexualized bodies. The representations call for a dialogue between the movement and a wider society, drawing attention to the potential conflicts in the religious community, and the differences between Laestadians and ‘the world’, but also to recognizing the multiplicity of manifestations of everyday Laestadianism, and to calling for openness toward the ‘other’.

‘Half Hindu and Half Muslim: The Syncretic Culture of the Hussaini Brahmins is Still Alive!’ – Amit Sampat (MA, Chairman “House of Wisdom”)
A popular saying in Hindi/Urdu which is attributed to Hussaini Brahmins is: “Wah Datt Sultan, Hindu ka Dharm, Musalman ka Iman, Adha Hindu Adha Musalman (Hail Datt Sultan, the Hindu Religion/Duty, the Muslim faith, Half Hindu and Half Muslim).” The origin of this community goes back to the time of the famous battle between Yazid and Hussain in Karbala in 680 AD. Although the sources about the origins of this community are scarce, in the last couple of years a lot of articles have been published in Indian and Pakistani newspapers. At the same time, the Hussaini Brahmins have been followed and their stories have been recorded by a group of graduating students as part of a project of Masters in Convergent Journalism, from the Jamia Millia Islamia in India. In this paper, I would like to focus on the self-perception of the Hussaini Brahmins, by looking at their own stories and listening to their own voices. By bringing all the available information about the Hussaini Brahmins together in this paper, the paper could be regarded as a modest attempt to make a start for a more comprehensive study of this community. The paper will shed a new light on the relationship between Hindus and Muslims.

‘Producing Gendered Religious Subjects: (Self-)Representations of Orthodox Reformed Women in the Netherlands’ – Nella van den Brandt (Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Utrecht University)
This paper theorizes the production of gendered religious subjects in contemporary cultural (self-)representations of Orthodox Reformed women in the Netherlands. In recent years, a number of Dutch novels, movies, documentaries and research-journalist books and articles were produced that represent Orthodox Reformed women in various ways. These cultural representations provide opportunities to analyse the framing of Orthodox Reformed women in the Dutch contemporary public domain. They moreover offer insights into the ways in which Orthodox Reformed women at times intervene in the framing by ‘talking back’ when they participate in the books and documentaries that aim at presenting them. This paper suggests to perceive these cultural representations as producing religious gendered subjects in the dynamic of the framing of/talking back by Orthodox Reformed women. This paper takes the 2013 documentary ‘Does God Love Women?’ as an example of this dynamic.