The Alide Iconography between Theological Debate and Popular Piety in Contemporary Albania

Gianfranco Bria, Gustavo Mayerà


In this work, we analysed the intertwining of social transformations and evolution of lived religion through the kaleidoscope of Alid iconographic worship in a postsocialist context such as Albania. In this framework, the Bektashi community restored and renewed Alid iconography, at first supported by transnational Iranian and Alevi networks, in order to hold social and political legitimation within the fragmented religious field. The embodying experiences of iconographic worship could shape the cognitive perceptions and moral dispositions of believers who partly play, critically and individually, their own religiosity. Finally, the spread of the icons seems to indicate a marketization of religious piety and a surfacing of public Islam, promoted by the Bektashiyya, in order to renegotiate power relations within Albanian society.


Islam; Albania; Bektashiyya; Sufism; Iconography

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Gianfranco Bria is a PhD student in "Histoire et Civilitation" at the "Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales" in Paris and at University of Calabria under the direction of Nathalie Clayer (Maitre de Conference at CNRS – EHESS – College de France) and prof. Alberto Ventura (Professor of History of Islamic Countries at the University of Calabria). The title of the PhD research is "Les Soufis entre sainteté demande de recherche et des valeurs dans l’Albanie contemporaine." His interests include contemporary Islam and Sufism in the Balkans, with special attention to Albanian countries (Albania, Kosovo, Montenegro and Macedonia).