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This article explores the revival of Palestinian indigenous performance practices that were part of the Sufi Nabi Musa festival. Focusing on the 2018 and 2019 government-sponsored performances, it examines how the different sociopolitical changes that took place in Palestinian society, following the mass expulsion of Palestinians from their land in 1948, have led to the marginalization, politicization, and eventual revival of indigenous performance practices, which are an important part of Palestinian theatre history. Exploring Sufi rituals as indigenous performance practices shows that theatre forms not based on appropriations of European-style theatre existed in Palestine in the twentieth century. It also raises important questions as to why many of them have been neglected by Palestinian non-governmental theatre organizations (NGOs). Dia Barghouti is the Arab Council for the Social Sciences Postdoctoral Fellow at the Abdelmalek Essaadi University in Morocco. Her research focuses on indigenous performance traditions in the Levant and North Africa. Her work on theatre and Sufism has appeared in New Theatre Quarterly and Jadaliyya.
This article examines the relationship between medieval Islamic philosophy and contemporary Tunisian Sufi ritual. Focusing on the metaphysics of time and space in the writings of the twelfth-century Andalusian saint Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi, the author explores the dhikr ritual within the framework of Sufi ontology in order to highlight the relevance of Islamic intellectual history to the religious practices of the ‘Issawiya Sufi community. The dhikr is one example of many indigenous performance traditions that are part of the rich cultural life of Tunisia. These are spaces where adepts engage with complex philosophical ideas through embodied performances. Thus, Sufi rituals raise important questions about the relationship between theory and embodied practice, which, although grounded in a particular cultural context, could be of relevance to the broader range of theatre. Dia Barghouti is a playwright and PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her plays have been performed at the Ashtar Theatre, the SIN festival of video and performance art, and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Centre, all in Ramallah, Palestine.
Focusing on the hadra ritual of the ‘Issawiya Sufi community, in this article Dia Barghouti explores how the narrative of the Prophet Muhammad's ‘night journey’ is performed within the Tunisian socio-cultural context. Drawing on the philosophical writings of the twelfth-century Sufi saint Muhyidin Ibn ‘Arabi, the author examines how re-enacting narratives of transcendence, and particularly of myths associated with the patron saint of the order, Sidi Ben-’Issa, allows members of the ‘Issawiya community to explore the ontological principles of Sufi cosmology by experiencing them directly in the body. Dia Barghouti is a playwright and PhD candidate in the Department of Theatre and Performance at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her plays have been performed at Ashtar Theatre and the Khalil Sakakini Cultural Center in Ramallah in Palestine.
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