Mentor Mustafa – Boston University, Anthropology
Doctoral Candidate in Cultural Anthropology. Currently: Cura Du Bois Fellow (Harvard University). Senior Project Member for Shala Valley Project in Albania. Earhart Research Fellow for the Instutute on Culture, Religion, and World Affairs (BU), Muslim Fellowship with the Institute for the Study of Muslim Cultures and Civilizations (BU).
Contestations of Trans-national Sacred Landscapes and the Albanian Bektashi Perspective on Islam and the ‘International Neighborhood’
Here I first explore how the Bektashi community of Albania conceptualizes sacred landscapes. Historically the Bektashi are noted for a presence in Anatolia since the early 13th century and later into the Balkan Peninsula via their strong alliance with the Ottoman military garrisons of the Janissaries. They are a Sufi order of Islam who have had a noted presence in Albania since early 1400s. What the Bektashi consider as areas of Bektashi influence include Kosovo, Macedonia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Turkey. For the Albanian Bektashi areas of influence include also Egypt and America. I focus here on the internal conceptualizations of sacred space and its trans-national character. The experience of the international neighborhood in this context invites a consideration of inter-faith relations.
The Bektashi are one of the four main religious communities in Albania next to Sunni Muslims, and Albanian Catholic and Orthodox Christians. The materials considered here show that the Albanian Bektashi see their own historical trajectory as a cycle of expansions and contractions with shifts in fortune. Contestations of sacred landscapes are presented in their particular historical context. At times the very existence of the international neighborhood has favored the perseverance of the Albanian Bektashi. At other times the contact with the other has jeopardized the very existence of the community. Events such as abolishment of religion in socialist Albania in 1967, and the first demise of the Bektashi in1826 suggest a set of international relations – these will conclude by way of implications and future prospects for research.