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The morality of self-interested exchange

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Chapter Summary

This chapter examines how in various contexts of death and martyrdom, men assert their maleness as procreators and regenerators of life through procreative metaphors, in particular the trope of blood, as a key marker of gender and power. It identifies the specific mechanisms that renew the power and legitimacy of masculinity through ritual performance, when so much of daily life experience fails to confirm it. Alternative perspectives are presented, revealing that ritual is a highly contested field and not simply means for inculcating social and moral values or political ideology. Shiʿa texts present Imam Husseyn's martyrdom as the central orienting Shiʿa myth. The ritual activities of the men's religious associations are concentrated on first ten days of Muharram. Over the same ten days, along with street processions, passion plays were held in the afternoons in the courtyards of houses and in tents or temporary venues set up for the occasion.

Keywords: Imam Husseyn's martyrdom; masculinity tropes; Muharram rituals; passion plays; political ideology; Shiʿa myth; street processions



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