Embodied Metaphor: Playing with Gender in South Asian Sufism

This paper brings the life and social world of a cross-dressing Sufi in rural Pakistan into relationship with the Sufi textual tradition to demonstrate that living gendered practices of sexual difference may serve as a form of what I call embodied metaphor that carries multiple layers of significanc...

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Bibliographic Details
Published in:Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Main Author: Ewing, Katherine Pratt
Format: Electronic Article
Language:English
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Published: Oxford University Press 2021
In: Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Year: 2021, Volume: 89, Issue: 4, Pages: 1256-1289
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Summary:This paper brings the life and social world of a cross-dressing Sufi in rural Pakistan into relationship with the Sufi textual tradition to demonstrate that living gendered practices of sexual difference may serve as a form of what I call embodied metaphor that carries multiple layers of significance. Such embodied metaphors are not mere expressions or negotiations of identity but go beyond gender to point to other desires and realities. Drawing on a Lacanian interpretation of metaphor and metonymy, I argue that gender play allows confrontation with an aporia of sexual difference that unsettles the speaking subject. I demonstrate the rich intertextuality of the Sufi body as metaphor while also addressing how the metaphorical possibilities of the Sufi body have been affected by the recent development of a legal discourse of the third gender in Pakistan and the intensification of efforts to reform or purify Islam.
ISSN:1477-4585
Contains:Enthalten in: American Academy of Religion, Journal of the American Academy of Religion
Persistent identifiers:DOI: 10.1093/jaarel/lfab080