Conditional Gifts for the Saints: “Gift” and “Commodity” as Gender Metaphors in Shi’a Ritual Practices in Iran

  • Azam TorabEmail author
Part of the Sophia Studies in Cross-cultural Philosophy of Traditions and Cultures book series (SCPT, volume 17)


Azam Torab’s interest is in the gender metaphors of gift and commodity. To illustrate this distinction, she describes women’s popular ritual votive meals known as sofreh and men’s rituals in commemoration of the death of Imam Husseyn in the month of Muharram. Torab’s study, however, questions the normativity of a gendered dichotomy usually attributed to these activities by analyzing the tropes of food and blood, which are central to these rituals, allowing that she perceives a specific mode of gender blurring in both the men's Muharram rituals and the women’s gift-giving celebrations.


Iran Shi’a Islam Formal Islam Popular Islam Gender ideologies Votive practices Ritual Requests Multi-vocal symbols Theology Hospitality Blood Food Barakat Paternity Sacrifice Martyrdom Instability of gender Karbala Narratives Victor Turner Marilyn Strathern 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Independent Scholar, Life Member of Clare HallUniversity of CambridgeCambridgeUK
  2. 2.Member of the Association of Social Anthropologists of the Commonwealth (ASA)LondonUK

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