The Powerful Ephemeral
Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place
University of California Press 2011
In The Powerful Ephemeral: Everyday Healing in an Ambiguously Islamic Place (University of California Press, 2011), Carla Bellamy explores the role of saint shrines in India, while focusing on a particular venue known as Husain Tekri, or “Husain Hill.” Through her in-depth ethnographic research, Bellamy’s monograph provides vivid description and analysis of the site as well as first-person narratives of pilgrims in order to offer a dynamic portrayal of the shrine complex. Bellamy shows how lines between religious communities are often fluid rather than fixed. She also problematizes notions of so-called spirit possession, interrogates the metaphysical power of frankincense, and articulates myriad perspectives of what healing might mean for those who visit Husain Tekri and participate in its rituals. Bellamy’s rich ethnography should appeal to numerous audiences, including those interested in South Asia, shrine culture, Islam, Indian religion, and Sufism.