Isaac Friesen

Grant Type

Dissertation Fieldwork Grant

Institutional Affiliation

Toronto, U. of

Grant number

Gr. 9532

Approve Date

October 11, 2017

Project Title

Friesen, Isaac P., U. of Toronto, Toronto, Canada - To aid research on 'Navigating Tradition in Provincial Egypt: The Avenues and Ethics of Muslim Crossing into Coptic Spaces,' supervised by Dr. Amira Mittermaier

My project is concerned with ordinary ethics, secularism and encounters between different religious traditions in provincial Egypt. Despite operating beneath the weight of a narrative of worsening sectarian relations, Coptic spaces and programs in the town of Beni Suef brim with Muslim attendees today. This practice of crossing occurs at both traditional sites (such as the church of a purportedly miraculous priest and an annual religious festival) and newer ones (such as educational NGOs and conferences for interfaith dialogue run by the church). I study these practices of Muslim attendance of Coptic spaces and what they say about different forms of ethical reflective evaluation, the heterogeneity of secularism, and the (in)commensurability of different religious traditions. I suggest that while a tension between secularism as an ethos and secularism as a political system manifests in newer sites of crossing, at older sites a heterodox practice and performance of religious tradition prevails. The primary objective of my research is to determine how ordinary Egyptians manage, respond to, draw upon and understand the different ideologies and practices at each site of crossing.