Reviews

Partly inspired by the pioneering research work implemented by Annette Krämer in the late 1990s, this very short article evokes the role of new generations of otins with a strong Islamic religious background (this background is unfortunately not described in the framework of this study) in the reshaping of feminine ritual practice in present-day Uzbekistan. The author notably mentions the simplification of funerals, the exhortation of women to wear hijab, and the transformation of the role of the otin as the head of small communities of female believers (ehsons, from Arabic احسان, lit. ‘right action’) ― from an organiser of sociability and a host of sacred banquets (a role that traditional otins used to share with male ‘ulama and shaykhs) to a preacher and propagandist of a more literal form of Islamic practice. She also evokes the ehsons’ influence on the everyday life of the women of a mahalla, and their impact on the present-day division of all ceremonies into islomii and ne-islomii. In her conclusion, like many experts of Islam in present-day Central Asia the author argues that the increase of the role of otins and ehsons appears as a rampart for the spiritual life of the nation against all kinds of assaults from the outside ― forgetting the rapid inner differentiation of this specific religious personnel of Islam, and definitively renouncing to the defence of secularism in Central Asia.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-6.4.G-544