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Presented By: Center for Southeast Asian Studies

CSEAS Lecture Series. History in Ruins: Keramat and Stories of Singapore Islam

Teren Sevea, Harvard Divinity School

Teren Sevea, Harvard Divinity School Teren Sevea, Harvard Divinity School
Teren Sevea, Harvard Divinity School
This paper studies oral and textual traditions concerning select Islamic miracle workers (keramat) of Singapore. Materials about keramat are richly informative about charismatic religious authority, the materiality of miracles, and the saintly mediation of societies, trade, and politics. The history of Singapore’s keramat and devotional communities is one interwoven with histories of the Indian Ocean, maritime Sufism, capitalism, colonialism, and post-colonial bureaucracy. The story of keramat and Islamic pasts and presents, moreover, is one learned from sacred places and ruins as well as from the caretakers, storytellers, and historians from within devotional communities. Biographies and miracle stories of keramat also illuminate the networks of storytellers and scholars involved in compiling chapters of Singapore’s Islamic history, who affirmed the oceanic reach of keramat as pivots of widespread networks connecting the eastern and western Islamic world. Keramat were abundant in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Singapore; this paper will focus on some of God’s "friends” in the port city.

Speaker Bio
Teren Sevea is the Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies at Harvard Divinity School. He is a scholar of Islam and Muslim societies in South and Southeast Asia and the author of Miracles and Material Life: Rice, Ore, Traps and Guns in Islamic Malaya. He is also the co-editor of a volume entitled Islamic Connections: Muslim Societies in South and Southeast Asia, and author of numerous articles on Islamic textual traditions, Sufism, oceanic networks, and spirituality. He is currently working on a forthcoming book entitled Singapore Islam: The Prophet's Port and Sufism across the Oceans.

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