Dr. Nour Farra Haddad, lecturer at the Faculty of Business and Economics AUST, Hospitality and Travel and Tourism Departments, presented a paper entitled: “Media valorization of the shiite religious heritage in Lebanon: Qabas Association” at the international conference "Minorities and Media" organized by GERmedias at the ISC Business School in Paris.
The objective of the conference was to study the link between "minorities" and traditional or digital media. "Minorities" must be analysed in a broad sense because they have a different meaning depending on the country, the social, political or cultural context in which they are used. It depends also on the kind of minorities: ethnic, cultural, linguistic, religious, gendered... many research angles that require to handle carefully this concept.
Dr. Farra Haddad presided a session around rituals, media and religious minorities. The session focused on the issue of ritual and devotional practices as they reflect contemporary changes of religion, particularly through the media. Rituals have a dimension of identity, individual and collective, and participate in the construction of self as well as the affirmation of minorities. Actors, gestures, words, postures can be addressed through different angles of approach integrating various aspects of the analysis of rituals and pilgrimages. These approaches may include sacred and ritual objects, body language, emotions, the individual and collective experience, motives and causes, instrumentalization and religious and political control, networks, and the figures of ritual factors change, tourism, distance and humor, research methods. It is also important to study the role played by the media regarding the rituals diffusion phenomena, promotion of pilgrimage, of instrumentalization for the affirmation of minorities.
Dr. Haddad also presented a paper at the GSRL (EPHE/CNRS) international conference ‘Oscillations: Croire et pratiquer entre sphère intime et sphère publique’, entitled: "When the dialogue is invited in the public sphere of votive rituals in Lebanon".
Here is the abstract of the presentation: “In Lebanon today, the worshipping of saints captures the essence of Christian as well as Muslim devotion, as it has for centuries. Oratories, chapels, monasteries, mosques, maqâms and mazars testify to the importance of this worship in Lebanese culture. The presentation is particularly interested in individual votive rituals, which are most often shared by different communities.
The paper provides a quick synopsis of the phenomenon of shared rituals, suggesting a typology of shared saints, shared religious sites and devotional practices. Each sanctuary proposes a series of praying initiatives to the faithful. Given the density of the number of worship sites in Lebanon as well as the volume of visits by the faithful of different communities, many pilgrimages go beyond that which can be classified as monolithically religious. At these worship sites, an intersectarian conviviality is experienced that is favorable to the construction of local and national identities, in which so many Lebanese have trouble investing themselves.
A pilgrimage is a path towards a sacred place that leads to an encounter with a saint, experienced through a series of rituals and devotional practices. Even if it is not the initial objective of the actions performed, it is still an encounter with “the other” - for the Christian with the Muslim, and for the Muslim with the Christian”.