Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Nathalie Clayer
Wednesday 18 April 2018, 05:30pm - 07:30pm
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In association with the Anglo-Albanian Association

Bektashism in Albania: An insight into Bektashi places, practices and beliefs

Dr Nathalie Clayer, CNRS-EHESS

Wednesday 18 April at 5.30 pm

Bektashism has a central position when one speaks about Islam in Albania. Babas (spiritual leaders), teqes (dervish lodges), tyrbes (tombs of saints) are the first illustration of that Islam and give it a flavor of heterodoxy, non-conformism, non-fundamentalism and liberalism. This image masks a more complex history and complexity of the place occupied by the Bektashi order, community, places or beliefs in the Albanian territories, both quantitavely and qualitatively.
In this lecture, I propose to first re-evaluate the scope of the spread of Bektashism from the Ottoman period to nowadays in these regions, and to explain why such an importance is given to the phenomenon. Then I suggest observing the features and transformations of Bektashism in the Albanian territories in going “in the field”. The case of the teqe of Melçan (near Korçë, in South-East Albania) during the interwar illustrates the difficult process of institutionalization, nationalization and centralization of a Bektashi supralocal authority, because of the centrality of the spiritual leader-believer relation.  The case of the pilgrimage to the Mount Tomor will allow a better understanding of these phenomena, but also more recent transformations in the attraction of Bektashi sacred places and Bektashism, in practices, as well as in beliefs and representations.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom