Remediated pilgrimage to the Shrine of Imam Reza

Zia Ghazvini, Mahrou (2019) Remediated pilgrimage to the Shrine of Imam Reza. PhD thesis, UNSPECIFIED.

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In this thesis I examine the remediation of pilgrimage practices through Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). If mediation is the engine of subject and object formation, the relationship between human and non-human aspects of the world, representations and experiences, meanings and interpretations, then remediation is about the transformations of these performative relations. Through ethnography and internet-based research, I take the concept of mediation as an analytical tool to study a set of practices in order to 1) extend the study of mediation and sociotechnical configurations within Science and Technology Studies (STS) to the domain of pilgrimage, and 2) gain a deeper understanding of pilgrimage through the lens of STS. The site of my research is the shrine of Imam Reza in Mashad, Iran. This thesis looks at remediations of pilgrimage at the shrine of Iman Reza over the last 10 years. It begins with an analysis of the use of landline telephones for remediated pilgrimage practices and traces further reconfigurations through which mediated pilgrimage is experienced today, including the mobile phone, Virtual Reality glasses, and applications on the web. Key themes emerging from the analysis are sensory experience, absence, emotions and (im)mobility. These themes shape the structure of this thesis, and also act as a scaffolding for a deeper understanding of pilgrimage remediated through the use of ICTs. This thesis contributes to research in the fields of media studies (specifically studies of remediation), science and technology studies, and pilgrimage studies. I argue that in the process of remediation social beings and technological artifacts are reproduced and reconfigured, at the same time that they mutually implicate each other. Shiite Iranians, in their use of ICTs, actively take part in shaping their connection to Imam Reza, demonstrating their creativity and openness in accommodating technologies for their religious purposes, at the same time that ICTs in return reshape and reconfigure what it is to be a pilgrim. This makes remediated pilgrimage an experience that is not coherent and stable, but rather always in the making. This research shows remediated pilgrimage through the use of ICTs to be continually crafted, making it multiple, transformative, contested and complex.

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Thesis (PhD)
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18 Feb 2019 12:55
Last Modified:
16 Sep 2023 02:47