‘It’s all bloody politics’. Blood donation, terror and Khoja diasporic imaginaries in Mombasa
While the War on Terror has dominated global security strategies for the last twenty years, its effects on the daily lives and struggles of Muslims around the Indian Ocean remains understudied. Drawing on ethnography from the Kenyan port of Mombasa, this lecture explores how one Muslim community has responded to intersecting processes of Islamophobia, insecurity and Islamic reform through blood donation.
Lecture by IIAS/ASCL fellow Zoë Goodman, organised by the Leiden Centre for Indian Ocean Studies (IIAS; KITLV; Leiden University).
Lunch will be provided; registration is required.
US-led counterterrorism strategies around the Indian Ocean and beyond are dominated by the deeply flawed assumption that Muslims constitute a prime security threat in the contemporary era. This lecture explores how negative stereotypes about Islam shape everyday life and ritual for Muslims in the Kenyan port of Mombasa, drawing particularly on ethnography amongst Khojas Ithna-Asheris, Shia Muslims of Gujarati origin who count generations of residence in the city. Tracing a recent shift from self-flagellation to blood donation in annual Muharram commemorations, I argue that blood donation has become a preferred medium in Khoja performances of transnational belonging because it responds to the intersecting processes of Islamophobia, insecurity and Islamic reform that characterise the present moment. The lecture contributes to the burgeoning field of scholarship that explores the everyday consequences of the global War on Terror, as well as bringing a diasporic and Muslim perspective to the literature on blood donation
Zoë Goodman is an urban anthropologist working in Mombasa, Kenya. Her research takes an ‘everyday’ approach to city living that aims to shift the narratives of crisis and development that continue to dominate the writing on African cities. She currently holds a Visiting Fellowship co-funded by the International Institute for Asian Studies (IIAS) and the African Studies Centre Leiden (ASCL). Her book project, entitled Tales of the everyday city: Indian Ocean legacies and uncertain futures in Mombasa, explores the way Muslims of Gujarati origin have shaped urbanity and piety in the city, and how these are in turn being affected by the War on Terror.