Secrets and revelations: an ethnographic study of the Nusayri community in the Karaduvar district of Mersin

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2010
Erdem, Muharrem
The main aim of this thesis is to present an ethnographic study of the Nusayri community in the Karaduvar district of Mersin to examine how it negotiates maintaining religious teachings and practices secret in the process of interacting with other communities and reproducing Nusayri belief. In addition to ethnographic field research in Karaduvar, two virtual communities that Nusayris frequent were studied to examine the negotiations on the revelation of Nusayri esoteric knowledge and secret ritual practices. The ethnographic data were collected during two months of fieldwork in Karaduvar and twelve months of online study of two virtual communities. Research findings show that although the intentional concealing of Nusayri religious knowledge and ritual practices have historically played an important role in the survival of the Nusayri community and belief, partial revelation of secrets are becoming more common and acceptable. Both the internal dynamics of the Nusayri community and the socio-political context in Turkey have contributed to this process. The result of the continuous negotiations among Nusayri sheikhs and followers is that while social secrecy is increasingly revealed, esoteric secrecy is maintained to a large extent. The dosclosure of secrecy is particularly supported by younger generations, university graduates, Nusayri intelligentsia, and those Nusayris who live outside of their hometown.