Voices of the Ritual

Voices of the Ritual: Devotion to Female Saints and Shrines in the Holy Land, by Nurit Stadler

Voices of the Ritual analyzes the revival of rituals performed at female saint shrines in the Middle East. In the midst of turbulent political contention over land and borders, Nurit Stadler shows, religious minorities lay claim to space through rituals enacted at sacred spaces in the Holy Land. Using ethnographic analysis, Stadler explores the rise of these rituals, their focus on the body, female materiality, and their place in the Israeli-Palestinian landscape.

Stadler examines the varied features of the practice and implications of the rituals, looking at themes of femininity and material experience. She considers the role of the body in rituals that represent the act of birth or the circle of life and that aim to foster an intimate connection between the female saint and her worshippers. Stadler underscores the political, cultural, and spatial elements of this practice, bringing attention to how religious minorities (Jews, Christians, Muslims, and Druze, among others) have utilized these rituals to assert their right to the land. Voices of the Ritual offers a valuable assessment of religious ritual practice that encrypts female themes into a landscape that has historically been defined by war and conflict.

About the Author

Nurit Stadler is Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. She is the author of Yeshiva Fundamentalism: Piety, Gender and Resistance in the Ultra-Orthodox World and A Well-Worn Tallis for a New Ceremony, and has published numerous papers on sacred shrines and pilgrimage.


Chapter 1: Contextualization: State, Religion, and Contested Borders
Chapter 2: The Experience: Body Rituals
Chapter 3: The Materials of Rituals
Chapter 4: Place: Rituals as Land Claiming
Chapter 5: Ritual, Landscape, and Alternative Order