Pilgrimage, Spiritual Tourism and the Shaping of Transnational ‘Imagined Communities’: the Case of the Tidjani Ziyara to Fez

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Vol: 3, Issue: 2

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Berriane, Johara
Dublin Institute of Technology
Pilgrimage; Fez; Tidjaniyya; transnational; imagined community; African Studies; Islamic Studies; Social and Cultural Anthropology; Tourism and Travel
article description
This paper aims at analysing the role of the transnational Tidjani pilgrimage to Fez in shaping a sense of belonging among West African adepts and their identification with Morocco. It is based on the assumption that the Tidjani pilgrimage has contributed to the shaping of a religious ‘imagined community’ (Anderson, 1996) encompassing West Africa and Morocco and to the reinforcement of the position of Fez as its ‘socio-cultural centre’ (Cohen, 1992). This paper explores the different historical and political factors that contributed to the evolution and maintaining of the Tidjani pilgrimage practice and to giving sense to it, and analyses the meanings, religious as well as secular that the West African Tidjani pilgrimage has today. Whereas Moroccan national issues contribute to the State’s instrumentation of the West African Tidjani shrine and its commodification, this research has shown that also other aspects (the link between pilgrimage and trade and/or migration) have played a crucial role in maintaining the Tidjani pilgrimage and in giving sense to it. In this way, the Tidjani pilgrimage is also experienced as a communal journey especially for West African Tidjani migrants living in Europe and for whom Fez represents a geographically close central place where they can gather with their peers and connect with ‘home’. Furthermore, the Tidjani pilgrimage represents a way to narrate and construct a transnational Tidjani imagined community in which Moroccan territory and culture are integrated.