Embodying the Virgin Mary, Christ and the Nation: A Contemporary Lebanese Female Mystic and her Unconventional Conduct

Mar 31, 2022, 12:00 pm1:00 pm
Free and open to the public


Event Description

This talk will focus on a female Lebanese mystic called Catherine of Nab’a, who has been living and officiating in her apartment in the suburbs of Beirut since the late 1990s. Catherine is a Maronite in her forties and is a married mother of three. Each Tuesday morning, she experiences a public ecstasy (inkhitāf). Every year, on Good Friday, surrounded by a number of faithful, she sees and experiences the Way of the Cross. The presentation will illustrate the complex interplay between this female mystic, her social and political environment, and the Maronite Church. Her activities and the rituals surrounding her stigmatized body will be analyzed in terms of the Foucauldian notion of “counter-conduct.”


Dr. Emma Aubin-Boltanski is a social anthropologist and scholar of the Arab world. She is a Senior Researcher at the National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) in France and is currently a member of the Centre for Social Research on Religion (CéSor).  She is the author of two books: Pilgrimage and Nationalism in Palestine (in French, Ed.de l’EHESS, 2007) and Body of the Passion. Religious and Political experiences of a Mystic in Lebanon (in French, Ed. de l’EHESS, 2018). She is one of the principal investigators of the research program SHAKK (From revolt to War in Syria: Conflict, displacements, uncertainties) that is funded by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche (2018-2022). Since 2018, Dr Aubin-Boltanski has developed a new body of research on the shifting roles of Syrian women in context of revolution, war and exile. She has collaborated with the philosopher Nibras Chehayed and translated from Arabic to French a series of testimonials gathered by the Syrian novelist Samar Yazbek and titled 19 Femmes: Les Syriennes racontent (Stock, 2019). She has also edited a volume of essays titled Mots de chair et de sang: Ecrire le corps en Syrie 2011-2021 (Ed. Presses de l’Ifpo, 2022).

Institute of Transregional Studies