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'Āšūrā' as a Female Ritual Challenge to Masculinity

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image of Arabica

This paper presents an ethnographic image of 'Āšūrā' delineating how a cultural and religious ritual may play the role of establishing and sustaining cultural hegemony in Morocco. It forwards into a position of prominence the carnivalesque aspect of the ritual. The cultural authority of the male is transgressed, mocked and crushed down by the joyful moment of female becoming in a ritual outlet that permits power to rejuvenate its yoke of domination over women in the normal existing social conditions. Carnival is a form of social control of the low by the high and thus serves the interests of the official culture that it apparently opposes. It is a licensed relief. Hegemony permits the ritual inversions of hierarchy and status degradations to re-affirm the status quo. In this sense, 'Āšūrā' seems to offer an occasion for the ritual emancipation of women fulfilled by their practice of magic and ceremonial alfresco gatherings, chanting songs of challenge to the male authority.

Affiliations: 1: Chouaib Doukkali University (El Jadida, Morocco)

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